By: Kelly Reis
As someone who has always admired surfing and the culture that surrounds it, I was stoked to have the opportunity to sit down with the little legend herself, Miss Leihani Zurich (@theminishakas). At just 7 years old, Leihani happens to be one of the youngest surfers ever to compete against the pros. She lives with her amazing family in Byron Bay, Australia, and trains to accomplish her dreams of being the best surfer in the world. Leihani is a force to be reckoned with – and all those who have witnessed her in the water can attest to that.
I had the pleasure of meeting Leihani and her awesome mum, Kirsty, in a zoom meeting to ask some questions about Leihani’s surfing career. Once the interview was over, I couldn’t help but feel inspired by this amazing grom with big dreams and an even bigger heart.
Kelly: How old were you when you caught your first wave ever?
Leihani: I was 1 month old.
Kelly: Do you remember what that felt like?
Leihani: It felt really good.
Kelly: Did your mom take you out surfing?
Leihani: My dad took me out to my favorite beach.
Kelly: How did you know that surfing was something that you loved and were passionate about?
Leihani: Because as soon as I touched the water, I felt like I am going to love it forever.
Kelly: Wow, what a great response. I love the ocean too and feel the same way; you are inspiring to me! What advice could you give other young girls who might be afraid of starting a new sport?
Leihani: To be brave.
Kelly: That’s great advice. So, who inspires you to be the best surfer you can be?
Leihani: Carissa Moore, Laura Enever, my mum, my dad, my brother, and my family. They are always there and they are always cheering me on. They are my best friends!
Kelly: It is amazing to hear that. It is nice to know you have such a great support system in and out of the water. Are they at all your competitions? How many competitions do you compete in per year?
Leihani: I don’t know how many, I do so many. My favorite part about competing is that you get to see your friends and you get to surf different waves, not just the same wave every time.
Kelly: That’s sick! Im assuming you get to travel all over…what’s your favorite place you’ve traveled to for a competition?
Leihani: Western Australia.
Kelly: What does a day in your life look like?
Leihani: I have breakfast, I sometimes go surfing and have coaching in the morning every Friday.
Kelly: what do you like to do in your free time when you are not surfing?
Leihani: I like to draw! I have lots of pictures I can show you, but I am very artistic. And I like to watch TV, I do chores, I help mum cook, and I usually play or fight with my brother. Sometimes I go on playdates.
Kelly: Do you get to have playdates in the ocean with your friends? And Surf?
Leihani: Yes, it is so fun I have lots of friends that surf.
Kelly: Well, I can’t wait to (hopefully) be as good as you in the water. Even though I know it takes a ton of commitment and practice, I would like to get there one day. Leihani, I have one more question for you. When do you like to use your Neso and how many people do you usually have under it?
Leihani: I love using my Neso at the beach when its not windy and wet. My mum and dad and brother like to sit under it. They all love it too. How is the surf there in California?
Kelly: The surf is pretty great right now! The water is warming up and now there’s tons of people in the water now that the beaches are open. Whenever you want, you can come out and we will get you to surf all the fun waves and you can kick everyone’s butt in the water. Thank you so much for being such an amazing interviewee, and it was so amazing chatting with you Kirsty and Leihani.
I was so excited to be able to conduct this interview on (seriously) the coolest little girl you’ve ever met. Her optimistic and go-getter attitude is infectious. If you haven't heard of her yet, you'll hear of her soon enough. With her natural born talent and her family and friends support, Leihani is on her way to becoming one of the best pro surfers in the world!