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Interview: Schuyler McFerran WWLT Champion


The Women's World Longboard Champion : photo ASP/Covered Images

Team News

Meet 19-Year-Old Women's World Longboard Champion Schuyler McFerran

Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 13 October, 2006 - Schuyler McFerran of Encinitas recently sat down to discuss her life since becoming the first ever ASP Women’s World Longboard Champion. A pro surfer less than three years, the 19-year-old has managed to fast-track her way to the top more quickly than almost any other surfer in history. Determined and focused, Schuyler shares how she balances her life in and out of the water, as a pro surfer and student at Point Loma University.

How did you get your start in surfing?
I started surfing when I was 10 years old. Both my parents grew up in Orange County and have been surfing together since they were in high school. When I was old enough, they took me out and pushed me into a couple of tiny waves. After I rode them all the way in, I was hooked!
How supportive are your parents of your career?
I have the most supportive parents that anyone could ask for. They have encouraged my surfing from day one. They never pressured me into surfing or competing, but they were always behind me 100%. They have played a huge part in my surfing career by taking me to contests, traveling with me all over the globe and helping me with sponsors.

How has your life changed since becoming the first ASP Women’s World Longboard Champion?
Since this was the first ASP Women’s World Longboard Championships, the media seemed to really take notice. After TV shows aired the event and articles were published, people come up to congratulate me and say how stoked they were for me. It seems that people are recognizing me a little bit more.

Did you ever imagine that you would make it this far?
Ever since I was a little kid, it has been my dream to be really good at one sport and to take it as far as I could. When I started really getting into surfing competitions, I thought that, if I really put my heart into it, I could become world champion one day.

What’s the greatest perk of being a pro surfer?
The perks are being able to travel all over the world and see so many different countries and cultures. I’ve also been able to meet a lot of different people while getting paid to do something that you love. Surfing has been such a huge blessing.

Are you planning any big splurges with the $4,500 winnings?
No, I am trying to save money for college.


The San Diego native felt at home at La Cote Basque, site of the WWLC: photo ASP/Covered Images


What was your training/preparation for the July 8th competition?
The physical training that I did was simply surfing, surfing, and more surfing. Mentally I prepared by focusing on the contest and getting amped for it!

Whom do you consider to be your greatest competitor?
Definitely, without a doubt, myself. I try very hard to keep my head together and not psych myself out and to keep my head in the game.

What is your favorite surf spot and why?
I don’t have just one favorite surf spot, I have four. They are The Pass in Australia, Tweeners here in San Diego, Surfers in Puerto Rico and the beach at my uncle’s sheep station in New Zealand.

How do you balance your life as a nineteen year-old with that of a pro-surfer?
Being able to go to Point Loma Nazarene University has really helped to balance my life. It has enabled me to do all the fun stuff that other 19 year olds are doing at college while maintaining my surfing career. The professors have been very understanding of my unique situation. They have worked with me around my travel schedule so that I can stay caught up on my schoolwork.

What are your hobbies/passions outside of surfing?
I love being active and have a lot of different interests. Skiing, bodysurfing, sailing, tennis with my younger brother, running and rollerblading are all fun. I also love art, particularly ceramics and photography.

Have you had to relinquish any of those interests as a result of your schedule?
No, thankfully I have been able to keep doing what I love while pursuing my other interests as well.

When you paddle into the water during a competition, is your mindset different than when you are not competing?
Definitely! When I am in a contest I am constantly thinking about catching the best wave and surfing it to the best of my ability. When I am free surfing, it’s all about having fun and being with my friends.

How has winning the title altered your vision of surfing?
I don’t think that my vision of surfing has changed since winning the title. To me, surfing has always been about having fun. I am still surfing because I love it and it is such a huge part of who I am.

Is surfing still your personal passion or is it now more of a job?
Suring is still my passion as it always will be. In a way, it is now a type of “job,” if you could call what we do “working.”

Having gained recognition so early in life, are you concerned about burning out?
Sometimes I feel a little overwhelmed by everything, but the feeling passes and I am still stoked on surfing.


Schuyler and friend Kassia Meador : photo ASP/Covered Images


Who is your greatest influence both personally and professionally? Why?
My greatest influences personally and professionally have to be my two incredible parents. I really look up to them in every way. They have a solid marriage, are wonderful parents and are amazing individuals. They have helped to shape me into who I am today and what I am becoming.

You mention that the Bible is your favorite book. Can you expand on that?
I am a Christian, and I have been raised in a Christian home. My faith is the single most important aspect of my life, after which comes my family, then surfing. I don’t want to come off as an in-your-face, shove-it-down-your-throat person when it comes to my faith. I just hope that people find out for themselves how amazing and wonderful it is to have a personal relationship with our Creator and how they can know about life abundant.

How would you define your surfing style?
I would say that my surfing style is definitely on the mellower side. I try to keep things smooth but still have some juice behind my turns.

Whose style do you admire?
I most admire Joel Tudor and Dave Rastovich. They are both such beautiful surfers and they keep things flowing.

What is the hardest part of being a pro surfer?
There are so many positives to being a pro surfer that it’s difficult to say there is a “hard” part. The only thing that I can think of would be certain aspects of traveling, like being away from friends and family and out of my comfort zone.

You’ve traveled to some amazing places in your career. Where else would you like to surf?
I would love to travel to some more of the tropical places, like Tortola and the Caribbean. I would also like to poke around Europe some more and see what they have in the way of waves. France was beautiful and amazing but I would love to go to places like Italy that are less known for surfing.

How do you spend your time when you are home in Encinitas?
I hang out with my family and friends. I play a little tennis with my younger brother, who always beats me, surf, have barbecues, play ping pong, read, take long walks with my mom… just normal everyday stuff.

Was it difficult to adjust back to school?
So far it has not been difficult at all. I love school and since it is so close, I can go home whenever I need to. My dad works right down the street from my Point Loma University so we have lunch once a week. My mom also comes down to surf and have breakfast with me once a week. As a result, I haven’t had a problem adjusting at all. I have just the right balance of family time and school time.

Have you been treated any differently since your July win?
I now have more friends on Facebook than before and people stop to congratulate me. When I’m hanging out with my friends, it doesn’t seem any different than before I won.

Do you have any plans to break into the world of shortboarding?
I would love to learn how to shortboard properly. Right now I love riding my fish at The Cliffs, but I never ride the potato-chip boards. It’s such a hard transition to make from a log to a tiny shortboard that it usually takes me a few sessions to warm up. Someday I hope to get really good at shortboarding to round out my surfing.

How would you define surfing to someone who has never tried it?
Surfing is like nothing else you will ever experience. It is such a unique activity that you will never regret learning how to surf. Ever.

How many boards do you have?
I have 5 longboards and 5 shorter boards that are mostly retro-style shapes.


19-year-old Schuyler showing mature footwork : photo ASP/Covered Images


How do you envision your future?
I see myself surfing until I have to be put into a wheelchair and somewhere along the way it would be nice to be married and have a family. I would love to have a surfing career and continue traveling and be a positive influence on the next generation. I love kids, so hopefully I can use my surfing to do something where I can help children.

What is your typical training regimen?
I try to run every day and eat a healthy diet.

How often do you surf? How long and with whom?
I surf everyday if it is rideable. At school I go surfing with my friends and at home I go with my mom and dad. I usually surf for an hour or more, depending on the waves.

In what ways have your prominent sponsors advanced your career?
My sponsors have really supported me and helped me get to where I am now. Their support has enabled me to travel to contests around the world and to surf a variety of different and challenging waves. I could not have traveled to all these places or competed as much as I have if it weren’t for my sponsors. Billabong has really helped me with traveling. Tudor’s have been making me the most incredible boards and are designing me my own model which I am so excited about!

What was your scariest moment in the water?
I haven’t been in too many scary situations. However, getting caught inside when a cleanup set comes always gets my heart pumping.

What was your greatest moment in the water?
After I rode my last wave in during the final in Biarritz, I was standing in the water waiting to hear the scores. When the announcer said that I had won, it felt like it wasn’t really happening. It was a moment that I will never forget as long as I live.

What changes have you seen in women’s surfing since you began?
I have seen the women’s level of surfing go up so much in the last few years. The girls are so good now and we keep pushing each other. There also seems to be more support and recognition for women’s longboarding, such as sanctioning by the ASP for the world title. Large surf companies are putting more money into our contests. The contest in Biarritz was so much fun and so well run. It was evident that women’s longboarding is no longer a sideshow. We are gaining the recognition and support we deserve. Women’s longboarding is such a beautiful and graceful part of surfing and I can’t wait to see what lies ahead.

How do you envision the future of women’s surfing?
I envision women’s surfing slowly but surely gaining more respect and recognition in the industry. I see women’s longboarding, in particular, establishing a world championship tour. It would be great if we could have a tour at different longboard venues where the girls can show how good they really are. That’s my dream.
Do you have any regrets?
No regrets, only learning experiences.

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Marlise Kast

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