The current crop of super groms who’ve been blowing up competitions, wave pools, Indo’s most challenging barrels and the internet in recent years, some of whom nay a day older than your favourite t-shirt, are truly poised for super stardom.
Already in a clear golden era of women’s surfing, those panicking about what’s to come in the wake of Steph Gilmore and Carissa Moore’s dominating chapters need not worry. The next crop of talent is already causing shockwaves globally, with the progression of women’s surfing being pushed to new limits by these young chargers.
We take a look at the 5 groms destined for world dominance who have already been making their mark.
Erin Brooks has had a historic year so far, The 15 year old’s 4th place finish at the Padang Padang Rip Curl Cup in August not only made her the first woman to ever surf in the event, but the youngest athlete ever. Putting on a jaw-dropping performance in classic heavy Padang Padang conditions, Erin’s flag as one of the world’s top talents was firmly and unequivocally planted.
2022’s U16 Girls ISA World Junior Champion has been blowing up for years though, pretty much since she started surfing age 9 when her family moved to Maui from landlocked Texas – a mind blowing feat when you seriously think about it. Deciding early on to focus her time on surfing, a summer-camp alternative spending months in Indo with Shane and Jackson Dorian honed her craft, and Erin is now near synonymous with being a stand-out talent to shred the Mentawais and Kandui.
Releasing edits showcasing an ability to tear barrels to shreds beyond-her-years, Erin infuses her aerial skills with a fearlessness that belies her young age. Her prowess even drove STAB mag to ponder the question, ‘Is This The Best Air Ever Done By A Female Surfer?‘, when at 13 years old during the Stab High in Central America (which she won) she stomped a near-perfect air.
It was pretty much internationally agreed to indeed be the best air ever done by a female surfer, hot-off her viral clips from surf pools including Waco where an air-reverse she nailed in 2019 broke the internet. Now a signed talent to Red Bull, it’s pretty much Erin’s world and we’re just living in it.
BETTYLOU SAKURA JOHNSON
Born and bred on the North Shore, 17 year old Bettylou Sakura Johnson may have only erupted into your consciousness when she stormed to a 3rd place finish at the Hurley Pro Sunset Beach this year (coupled with a 9th place finish at the women’s debut WSL Billabong Pro Pipeline event), but her trajectory has been a steady and dominant rise. Bettlou’s homebreak of Hale’iwa enabled her to hone her skills at a young age, entering surf competitions and becoming sponsored by Roxy at a mere age 10.
By aged 14, Bettlou was competing in QS events, and was already emerging as a prodigious talent and highly competent barrel rider, as comfortable in big waves as most people are in 2ft ticklers. A jaw-dropping win at the 2020 Papara Pro Junior Tahiti was a clear teaser of things to come.
Age 16 saw Bettylou earn her ticket to the 2022 CT, after defeating illustrious champion and idol, Carissa Moore, at the Hale’iwa Challenger and becoming the youngest ever woman on the World Tour. Though she fell off the Tour following the WSL’s shake up, continuing on the inaugural Challenger Series, a recent win at the US Open Of Surfing in August was another mind blowing showcase of the Hawaiian’s colossal talent. No doubt there’s only excellent things to come for the youngster – keep your eyes peeled.
Sierra Kerr’s family roots may be by way of surf royalty, with her Dad being former CT surfer, Josh Kerr, but the 15 year old stoked-out super grom has been turning heads by her own accord for years. Born in Tweed-Heads, Australia, and raised in California, Sierra’s infectious appetite for sports from a young age has made her into an already stellar athlete in multiple sports; surfing, skateboarding (competing in the X Games), golf (her handicap is 6+) and fishing.
Considering she’s only been surfing for less than a decade, Sierra’s trajectory has been nothing short of stratospheric. Sharpening her skills on trips worldwide to Indo, Australia, Fiji and Mexico as a kid, she’s now well-renowned as a formidable surfing talent. Her abilities in big waves, and notably, as a budding aerial specialist sees her dropping jaws globally.
By 14, fellow pros of the likes of Italo Ferreiro had their minds blown with Sierra’s aerial competence. She became the first girl to ever land a Frontside Rodeo (aged 9) and Frontside 540 vert skating, and she’s clearly harvesting her skills into surfing. As the recipient of the “Female Rising Star” 2 years running in 2021 and 2022 in the Australian Surfing Awards, and with Volcom as a sponsor under her belt, Sierra’s talent, coupled with her genuine and infectious stoke for sports will clearly lead her to global stardom.
Another athlete on the Red Bull roster is flame-haired, ferocious talent, Caity Simmers. At just 16 years old, Caity has been repeatedly cited as one to watch, and already counts a list of wins and bullion in her trophy cabinet that would make more mature athletes agog. California born and raised, surfing Oceanside’s pier with her family led Caity to start competing by aged 9, and by 2018, was the ISA’s U-16 Girls World Junior Champion.
Watch Simmers’ powerful surfing and it’s not hard to see why she’s the name on many lips as being the next big thing in women’s surfing. Don’t think a run in with a rude and disgruntled surfer at Superbank on her first trip to Australia has derailed her drive. Taking down Aussie icon, Sally Fitzgibbons, in the final, Simmers’ triumph at Snapper was her 2nd Challenger Series win after her victory in 2021 at the US Open Of Surfing. Though she was offered a place on the 2022 CT, Simmers turned it down, and eventually ended 2022 ranked first on the Challenger Series. Eyeballing the 2023 tour, the next Olympics and citing ‘fun’ as central to her surfing mentality, Caity Simmers is poised for a long and successful career.
Part of the Vaast family dynasty from Tahiti, 17 year old Aelan Vaast, along with brothers Naiki and Kauli (who’s second place finish at the recent Tahiti Pro included going switch at Chopes in a semifinal heat against Kelly Slater), has been steadily rising through the ranks. With Teahupo’o in her backyard, Aelen’s barrel riding has been making people sit up and take notice for a number of years, and her passion for surfing is clear on her popular Instagram channel. Taking the wins in the junior divisions at the Classic Surf Pro event in Spain and the Open in France, Aelan is a dominant presence on the junior circuits, likely to take her unstoppable momentum onto the women’s circuits in the future.