And hear about her new partnership with Cariuma.
World-champion surfer Kelia Moniz found out she was pregnant just before lockdown, but that wasn’t going to stop her from surfing. Aside from general fatigue, the surfing process stayed generally the same until the past few months due to the newfound size of her belly. Moniz can no longer paddle on her stomach, but instead does so on her knees. She is also riding a slightly larger board to accommodate the extra passenger riding along with her.
Surprising to most, Moniz says she is surfing better than she ever has. “It actually is really motivating to know what your body is capable of,” she explains. “My body is doing so much more than it ever has, and I’m still in one piece.” The entire process—all the challenges and obstacles—have cemented her goal of another world title. “Seeing how I’m able to do this makes me realize I have literally zero excuses as to why I shouldn’t be pursuing competitive surfing because I can still surf at that level while pregnant.”
As an athlete, Moniz has a unique relationship with her body. Not only does it provide her with a career and, therefore, an income, it is the mechanism through which she finds passion while surfing. So taking care of her body is a priority above all, a concept which lockdown has made oddly easy. “I’ve never been home this long, ever, so I’ve really just been able to take care of my body, to surf and enjoy these last few months before my life totally changes.”
“Seeing how I’m able to do this while pregnant makes me realize I have literally zero excuses as to why I shouldn’t be pursuing competitive surfing because I can still surf at the level that I’m surfing at while pregnant.”
As a no-contact, water-based sport, it’s one of the few things that lockdown never prohibited. The young athlete watched as more and more people began to surf, forging an even deeper connection with the ocean—and acting as a constant dose of sanity during the madness. “It has meant everything,” she reiterates, and for the first time in decades, the empty beaches have allowed for the locals to participate at a much greater rate.
Tourism is a huge component of the Hawaiian economy, which lockdown effectively reduced to somewhere near zero. And while Moniz acknowledges how important it is financially (both her parents depend on tourism), she says the locals have never had greater access to the beaches and the ocean. They’ve been privy to a completely different version of their land. “It’s allowed us to see what Hawaii looked like back in the day without the beaches being cluttered,” she says.
“I’ve never been home this long, ever, so I’ve really just been able to take care of my body, to surf and enjoy these last few months before my life totally changes.”
The word sponsor can often take on a negative connotation in today’s insta-perfect branded-content-hungry world, but to an athlete, specifically a surfer, it’s so much more than that. “There are very few brands that have the funds to support professional surfing at a level where you can actually make a living,” explains Moniz. When sponsorship is how you generate a livable income, it then becomes a real partnership with a brand whose ethos you believe in.
“The beauty that I think, not only myself, but a lot of people are taking away from COVID-19 is we’re able to just strip back the layers on what heavy expectations the modern-day life has put on a lot of people, and the reality of what matters has been able to sink in—what you do every day, what you have, money—all that shit, honestly, at the end of the day doesn’t matter because look at what we’re facing.”
Even if your version of finding peace doesn’t involve setting a goal for your next world title (we wish), everyone could all learn a thing or two from Moniz’s pared-back approach to life. For starters, it seems we all need to hop on a surfboard.
Photos: Mason Rose
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