Twenty-three year-old Hawaiian-based, pro longboarder, Kelly Potts has a lot to smile about. Aside from a toned body and tropical tan, this smart and striking blond has modeled for leading surf gear companies like Billabong and is now the face of Global Surf Industries most in-demand “girly” board, Surf Betty. Fashion Junkie caught up with the Queen of the surfing scene for tips on tackling the waves (and sharks!) to staying chic while boarding.
Kelly Potts riding the waves on a Surf Betty.
FJ: Can you tell us how you first got into surfing?
KP: Well, I grew up in Austin, Texas (a good six hour drive to the nearest coast) and didn’t really have any clue about surfing, I’d never done it. My parents have been divorced since I was three (grew up with mom in Texas) and at age twelve my father had moved from Oregon to Maui, Hawaii. The first time I went to visit him there he rolled up to the airport with longboards on top of the car and took me straight to the beach. He paddled with me out to the surf so I could get used to the feeling of the ocean and the board underneath me. Soon I was standing up and after a few surf sessions with dad I started going surfing on my own. I watched the other more experienced surfers out in the water and learned a lot about surfing by just watching them.
FJ: What is it that you like about competing?
KP: Plain and simple… I don’t like to compete at all. I get nervous, over anxious, and it distracts me from what I like best about surfing, which is to just be and express myself.
FJ: What’s your advice for someone like me who’s fearful of the ocean (i.e. sharks)?
KP: I always wondered how I could be related to my mom who is completely terrified of water. She can’t go under even when she’s taking a shower. Some people just don’t have it in them no matter how much they force it. I never like to force anything. Some people enjoy swimming and being in water but the ocean scares them and that’s fairly normal. The ocean is something to be humbled by because it is so powerful and is always changing. I was lucky to learn how to surf at a place where the water is always pretty calm and protected so it was fun, relaxing and easy to learn. I would suggest finding a spot like that to learn so the open-ocean elements aren’t as scary. (Open-ocean can be very unpredictable, and the elements like wind and swell can be extremely hazardous for someone with no ocean knowledge.) As for the shark factor, I’d like to think of them as my “amakua,” my own personal protector who could just be my ancestors. This helps to not feel scared, which could attract the attention of a shark.
FJ: Does anything frighten you?
KP: Oh, sure. I get frightened by some things, such as really big waves. I can surf some pretty big waves, but I do have to draw the line when it gets to a certain size. Riding a longboard in big waves is very intense, more so the paddling around in the big surf than the actual riding part, which is such a thrill! There’s this thing called womanly instinct that definitely makes me more hesitant in trying something extreme. I call it the “What If” instinct whereas men have the “It’s going to be awesome” instinct.
FJ: Where are some of the best waves to surf?
KP: I think some of the best waves to surf are on Planet Earth…. I’ve been to a lot of places around the world to surf and every place I’ve surfed along the way has been unbelievable in it’s own special way. Australia has so many great breaks with so much coastline, the Maldive Islands are set up so perfect for point breaks, Costa Rica, California…. I don’t know which one would be the best.
FJ: What kind of workout do you get from surfing?
KP: I get a really “gnarly” upper body workout from surfing: my shoulders, my arms, my back muscles, my abs, and my pecks… it’s almost too much sometimes. I have to do some counter active training with my lower body (when the waves are small of course).
FJ: What else do you do to stay in shape (aside from surfing)?
KP: I clean homes and vacation rentals in Maui so the hard work I put into that is like a workout in itself. I usually only want to surf after that. Sometimes I do my old track workouts, like really slow moving, good form, lunges on the beach, or just slow jogging on the beach. But to be honest, I pretty much just surf to have fun and the staying in shape part just goes hand-in-hand with surfing.
FJ: Why do you think it has suddenly become more and more chic for chicks to catch the wave?
KP: Blue Crush had a huge impact on women and wanting to surf. It seems to be more of a fashion trend than it is a connection with the earth and oneself, but I’m sure there are a few women out there who have come to see surfing as a soulful experience and not just for the hot body and trendy attire.
FJ: Can you give us some key safety tips for entry-level surfers – what are some common dos and don’ts for starting out?
• Watch the waves at the spot you’d like to surf at for a minimum of five minutes before heading out
• Look for current and what direction it is moving
• Look at what kind of wave set up it is: beach break, reef break or rock break. This helps you find a good spot to line up
• Look for your safety channel to paddle out, even after catching a wave
• See if the wave is easy to handle. You can look at the other surfers in the water to see if you are at the same level of surfing. (If there’s ripper’s out doing tricks you can’t comprehend, don’t go out.)
• Always fall flat (back-flop or belly flop) when wiping out. No head dives or jumping feet first you could break a very important part of your body
• Always look behind you at the wave and other surfers when paddling for a wave
• Look both ways before making the drop. Dropping in on someone is a bad NO!
• There’s almost always a current in the water, so after you’ve made it out beyond the surf and have found the peak, find something on the land to line up with the peak. That way you can always be at the right spot
• If you wipe out hard, STAY CALM! It is the one thing that’ll save you
• Always stay in control of the board, don’t let the board control you. Hang on to it or it could end up hurting yourself or someone else.
FJ: Are there special surfing ensembles that women should wear to prevent injuries?
KP: There’s really only your brain for protection. Use it and think ahead. If you want to protect your brain, get a helmet.
FJ: What are some of your favorite surfing apparel brands and why?
KP: I really love Honolua Surf Co. clothing. They have a hint of surf style along with a classy, sophisticated egde and are always comfortable. Element has some good styles I enjoy as well.
FJ: Explain the phenomenon over GSI’s Surf Betty boards. Why have they become so popular?
KP: I think the movie Blue Crush attracted so many women to surfing, and during this time the Surf Betty was under way. It’s a great board to learn and progress on. It also has cute girly designs on all the boards and there’s a suitable size for every woman. I hope everyone can come to know surfing on the Surf Bettys.
Exclusive deal just for YOU! Global Surf Industries is giving away a 7’2” NSP Surf Betty (pictured below) to one lucky Fashion Junkie Fix subscriber (a $375 value!). All you need to do is sign-up and forward this email to five friends and you’ll automatically be entered to win. The winner will be notified via email on July 9th, 2007. You must be over the age of 18 to qualify.
For more information about Global Surf Industries, visit surfindustries.com or call 877-474-6503.
This Surf Betty board could be YOURS!