Join Rip Curl Women Brisa Hennessy, Leilani McGonagle, Leah Thompson, Kirra-Belle Olsson and Melania Suarez.
Every year, in the depths of summer heat, professional surfers from all over the world descend on the crowded shores of Huntington Beach, California, to compete in the US Open of Surfing. This year the women of Rip Curl were no exception, flying in to compete from all corners of the globe – Australia, Europe, Costa Rica and the USA’s East Coast.
During their stay in California, a few lucky ladies had the opportunity to escape down the coast and hunt for waves. Piled in the car on the lookout, Trestles quickly became the only option on this swell-deprived day – two-to-three-foot, onshore and, as Kirra-Belle Olsson so aptly puts it, perfect for airs.
The women in tow? Brisa Hennessy, Leilani McGonagle, Leah Thompson, Kirra-Belle Olsson and Melania Suarez. Let the superheat begin.
In the meantime, let’s take this opportunity to get to know the Rip Curl Women, just a little bit better...
Brisa is an athlete on the World Championship Tour, surfing her way around the globe and competing against the top-17. She and her family currently live a bit of a nomadic lifestyle, based part-time in Fiji and full-time on the road. However, Brisa spent much of her childhood in a little place called Matapalo, Costa Rica. Costa Rica is the country she competes for on the World Tour, and the country she will be vying to compete for at the Olympics in 2020.
When she’s not in the surf, you’ll find Brisa in the kitchen, whipping up something so delicious that it couldn’t possibly be healthy. With Brisa’s secret family-owned recipes, however, it is.
Leilani McGonagle grew up in Pavones, Costa Rica. Her house, which you get to by following a long dirt road into the jungle, sits directly in front of one of the world’s best left-hand point breaks. The wave, Pavones, sits on the eastern side of a large bay; it just so happens that Matapalo, Brisa’s hometown, sits on the opposite and western side of the bay. Despite living about 10kms from each other growing up, Leilani and Brisa didn’t meet until they competed together as Rip Curl team riders.
Leilani is a goofy-footer, and due to years of practice at Pavones, she has one of the deadliest forehand attacks on the World Qualifying Series. While travelling the globe competing, Leilani is also in the midst of finishing a Bachelor of Marketing.
Goofy-footer Kirra-Belle “KB” Olsson is from Copacabana, a small coastal town on the Central Coast of New South Wales, Australia. She’s also the cousin of former World Tour surfer Matty “Wilko” Wilkinson, and has the backhand attack to prove it.
On a mediocre day of surf, Kirra-Belle will spend hours in the water. On a good day of surf, Kirra-Belle won’t get out of the water. And when there are barrels on offer? It’s an entirely different ball game. One of the most passionate and competitive surfers on the Rip Curl Women’s team, KB is one to watch out for.
When she’s not travelling the world chasing barrels or competing on the World Qualifying Series, KB can be found working one of her many jobs around home – at the local café, or teaching kids to surf at the beach.
Leah Thompson isn’t your typical surfer girl from the USA. In fact, Leah isn’t your typical anything.
Hailing from Wrightsville Beach in North Carolina, USA, Leah grew up surfing cold and empty lineups, going wave for wave with her dad, not another soul around. North Carolina’s surf is far from consistent, but when a cyclone approaches the USA’s East Coast, the ocean lights up. Leah spent much of her youth chasing those cyclone swells, and because of this she’s learnt her way around some solid surf. “I’m a fan of big waves, honestly,” she says. “If someone says go, I’ll go.”
When she’s not chasing cyclones at home or swells around the world, Leah can be found modelling for Rip Curl Women on campaign shoots or competing on the World Qualifying Series.
Melania Suarez is only 15 years old, but between travelling the world on her own, chasing her dreams of competing on the World Tour, and a power in the water beyond her years, you sure wouldn’t know it.
Melania grew up in the Canary Islands, where she spent her days surfing dozens of world-class waves just a short drive from her front door. The Canaries serve up a huge variety of waves, from big barrels to punchy beach breaks, and the exposure to this variety of waves really shows in her surfing.
This day trip to Trestles was Melania’s first time joining the Rip Curl Women crew on the road, and despite the language barrier (Melania only speaks Spanish), she threw down in the water and fit in seamlessly. Welcome to the crew, Melania.