Kamali, the 13-year-old surfer from Mammallapuram, has been selected as the top three upcoming surf stars of the world

Kamali has been selected by eight-time world champion Stephanie Gilmore, in collaboration with iconic surf gear and accessory brand Roxy

Updated - February 22, 2023 02:46 pm IST

Published - February 20, 2023 05:22 pm IST

Kamali has been surfing from the time she was three

Kamali has been surfing from the time she was three

With bated breath, the surfing community waited for the news to break out on the Indian surfing scene. Kamali Moorthy, from Mammallapuram has been selected as the top three upcoming surf stars of the world, by eight-time world champion Stephanie Gilmore, in collaboration with iconic surf gear and accessory brand Roxy. The Surf with Steph programme aims to choose and provide a platform for surfing prodigies across the world. Roxy, an American women’s lifestyle brand organises a variety of such initiatives. And this time 13-year-old Kamali is the first one from India to make it to this coveted category.

When Kamali was three years old, her uncle Santhosh Moorthy (the country’s first surf board shaper and a talented surfer) took her out into the ocean to give her class and she picked up the sport with astonishing ease. Raised by a doting single mother, Suganthy, who brought up her two children in the fishing village, selling water bottles by the alleys of the Shore Temple, Kamali quickly grew into the town’s favourite mascot.

To surf with the Australian champion for a month has been Kamali’s dream. She will also receive a replica of the world title board won by Stephanie and a year’s worth of surfing related products sponsored by Roxy. Stephanie’s calendar is brimming with competitions in Portugal, Brazil, South Africa, and French Polynesia. And as soon as she gets a month off, Kamali will join her at which ever destination she is. During this time, the junior surfer will get to learn techniques and style from the pro.

She is the current title holder for the Mahabalipuram Surf Competition

She is the current title holder for the Mahabalipuram Surf Competition

It all began when Kamali’s mentor Aine Edwards saw a post by Stephanie calling for entries. Aine then dug out all the videos she had been collecting over the last 10 years, compiled a story and submitted it on behalf of Kamali. Thousands of applications poured in over the next one month, from women across all age groups.

Did Kamali stand a chance? 

Yes. Because when Kamali surfs, everyone stops to watch. Beaming with joy, she focusses with eyes on the waves, and always has the best time with her best friend, the ocean. She practises for five hours a day. Her hard work was evident in her videos that were reviewed by Stephanie.

Kamali first made it to the top 12. The top 12 were then put through a public voting domain, to narrow it down to top six. Kamali was pitted against another talented surfer and managed to get 84% of the votes. From this list, Stephanie then chose the top three.

The force behind Kamali’s selection, is the persistence of Aine Edwards, the power of social media, and a surfing community that came together to put her on the global stage. The surfers in this country are beaming with pride and joy as they look forward to the next phase of this young star surfer’s life. And now this little girl from a small coastal village is on her way to conquer the world.

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