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Surfing, as both a surf and a lifestyle, has evolved into a multi-billion-dollar industry. French conglomerate Kering invested a minority stake in Outerknown, world-renowned surfer Kelly Slater’s nascent clothing brand, while Diane Von Furstenburg and Cynthia Rowley have created fashion-forward wetsuits and rash guards for women. The cool, athletic yet stylish surfer was epitomized in Chanel No. 5’s 2014 commercial where Gisele Bundchen surfed famous big wave spot Teahupo’o in French Polynesia.
Gidget, Blue Crush and Soul Surfer have slowly but steadily drove women’s surfing into the Hollywood spotlight. The World Surf League, professional surfing’s governing body, has pushed the breadth and depth of female competition evermore. This year, it increased the number of women’s events and now offers prize money and broadcast time equal to the men’s division.
As women’s surfing continues to swell, here’s a look at the 5 Female Surfers Hollywood should know.
Instagram followers: 537K (@xococoho)
Sponsors: Volcom, Swatch, Etnies, Lost Enterprises, Beats by Dre
Coco Ho is surfing royalty. Her father Michael and her uncle Derek, who appeared in The Endless Summer 2, were both professional surfers, as is her brother Mason. Ho, a resident of the North Shore, Hawaii, impressed Blue Crush director John Stockwell to such a degree that he created a role on the spot for Ho. The now 25-year-old surfer appeared as the young Anne Marie (the older of which was played by Kate Bosworth).
“I think Hollywood did a great job with Blue Crush,” Ho told THR. “It was rough around the edges and I liked that. Most people don’t realize how mentally draining and stressful professional surfing is.”
Ho has been on the World Championship Tour for eight straight years, for which she’s never missed an event. In 2014, ESPN included her alongside Michael Phelps and Venus Williams in its Body Issue.
The 5’3” surfer is no stranger to red carpets either. She attended the 2013 and 2015 ESPY awards, and this week at the Swatch Women’s Pro in San Clemente, launched her first solo watch collaboration with Swatch.
Instagram followers: 236K (@sageerickson)
Sponsors: Oakley, Channel Islands Surfboards, Freestyle Watches
A perennial Hollywood refuge, the bucolic town of Ojai is the place Sage Erickson calls home. It’s also where Reese Witherspoon offered up her home to Robert Pattison in 2012 after he split from Twilight co-star Kristen Stewart, and currently boasts “True Detective” creator Nic Pizzolatto as its resident.
Erickson, the 25-year-old professional surfer has already cut her modeling teeth, appearing in the 2014 issue of Maxim’s Hot 100 with Scarlett Johansson, Katy Perry and Mila Kunis. She’s walked the red carpet with former Victoria’s Secret model Candice Swanepoel and been featured on Esquire’s Women We Love alongside Natalie Dormer and Beth Behrs.
Understanding the inexorable link between surfing and fashion, Erickson was an early adopter of Cynthia Rowley’s wetsuits, and is in talks to partner with SoHo House and Equinox to lend her surfing skills to a surf clinic at the Little Beach House in Malibu in October.
“Today surfing is portrayed as this beautiful and sexy sport,” Erickson said, adding “I love the lifestyle and that fact that high fashion brands and Hollywood is taking interest, well that’s the California dream.”
Instagram followers: 422K (@stephaniegilmore)
Sponsors: Roxy, Nikon
Speaking of the SoHo House, six-time world surfing champion and recent Malibu transplant Stephanie Gilmore is one of the founding members of the Little Beach House, the Malibu outpost of the Hollywood haunt. She’s quickly become an upstairs regular, sipping her usual Picante De La Casa spicy house margarita.
When she’s not winning world titles, the Australian-born surfer can be found guest editing Monster Children, a popular Australian lifestyle magazine, hobnobbing with Rihanna, like Gilmore did at the 2015 Met Gala, or spending quality time working out at Laird Hamilton’s underwater gym in Malibu alongside Rick Rubin, Gabby Reece, Orlando Bloom and Neil Strauss.
Although Gilmore doesn’t flinch surfing overhead waves, she called her Met Gala experience “a little daunting.”
The 28-year-old surfer has won two ESPY awards for Best Female Action Sports Athlete in 2010 and 2013, and feels equally comfortable in her Roxy wetsuit as she does a custom Marchesa gown or Stella McCartney frock, the latter of which Gilmore wore to accept her most recent ESPY award.
Instagram followers: 1.7 million (@alanarblanchard)
Sponsors: Rip Curl, GoPro, Spy Optic, Reef
Although she describes herself as a hippie and a homebody, Alana Blanchard is anything but. Hawaiian-born Blanchard has been surfing since she was 13 and took the surf scene by such storm that a year later, Rip Curl hired her as a model.
For over a decade, Rip Curl has only enlarged her role. Blanchard’s bikini collaboration, Alana’s Closet, launched in 2011, (fans of Blanchard’s line include Willow Smith and Alessandra Ambrosio) and in 2015 Rip Curl added holiday apparel to the Alana’s Closet line.
Her modeling prowess impressed executives at Time Inc., and in 2013 Blanchard appeared as the featured athlete in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue alongside models-cum-actresses Kate Upton and Irina Shayk.
Although she’s not currently on the World Tour, Blanchard is second only to Kelly Slater, the most decorated surfer of all time, in Instagram followers.
“Most people have really stressful jobs but there’s something about being in a bikini, barefoot in a hot beautiful place that makes people want to eat well and slow down,” Blanchard told THR. “That’s how I portray the surfing lifestyle.”
Instagram followers: 1.4 million (@bethanyhamilton)
Sponsors: Rip Curl, Crush Eyewear, Channel Islands Surfboards
Bethany Hamilton lost her left arm when she was attacked at age 13 by a 14-foot-tiger shark in Kauai, Hawaii, in 2003. Her New York Times bestselling book, Soul Surfer: A True Story of Faith, Family, and Fighting to Get Back on the Board inspired a documentary and the 2011 Sony Pictures film of the same name which starred AnnaSophia Robb as Hamilton and Dennis Quaid and Helen Hunt as her parents.
Since then she’s appeared in the film Dolphin Tale 2 alongside Morgan Freeman and Ashley Judd, and made numerous television appearances including In the House with Peter Bart and Peter Guber, Home & Family, and 17 Kids and Counting, to name a few. Hamilton has been interviewed by Anderson Cooper, Queen Latifah and Oprah, and participated in The Biggest Loser and The Amazing Race, where, in 2014 she placed third alongside her husband Adam Dirks.
A mom to her one-year-old son Tobias at age 26, Hamilton is back on the world tour. She wowed the surfing community with an impressive performance this past June in Fiji, and is finishing up shooting her newest film, a surf flick entitled Surfs Like A Girl, set to release in Spring 2017.
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