Layne Beachley (AUS), 36, former seven-time ASP Women’s World Champion and current No. 3 on the 2008 ASP Women’s World Tour ratings, has officially announced her retirement from full-time competition, effective at the end of the year.
“I feel like now is a really good time, even though I am in my career best form, because I am an all-or-nothing kind of girl and to achieve the goals I set for myself in surfing, I have to give it my all and I’m not,” Beachley said. “I have to be honest with myself – I’m not commiting 100% time and energy and effort and focus into winning world titles. It doesn’t mean that I can’t win world titles, but my priorities are beginning to shift and my focus and my passion in business and charity work and my ambassador roles is beginning to have more appeal to me than competing for a living. I feel like I’ve achieved everything that I’ve wanted to and that it is good to go out while I’m still in top form.”
Beachley’s announcement comes as a surprise to the surfing community, given that the iconic natural-footer is surfing better than ever and currently challenging for the ASP Women’s World Title once again, sitting in No. 3 spot on the ratings at present.
“I feel like I’m surfing the best I have in my whole career,” Beachley said. “Nothing has really changed on tour except for my attitude. It’s my lack of commitment to winning. I base my choices off my experiences and my experience has told me that you have to be 100% focused and also love you’re doing. Even though I love what I do, I’m beginning to love what I’m doing out of the water more. My passion for competitive surfing has been diluted, and to achieve success and to win world titles, you can’t afford for it to be diluted too much. So now I’ve had to make a decision and I’m convinced I’m doing the right thing.’
The Sydney-sider is the most accomplished female surfer in the history of the sport, winning a record seven ASP Women’s World Titles (1998-2004, 2006), scalping 29 elite tour victories, and collecting countless accolades as one of surfing’s most recognizable figures.
“There’s been millions of highlights,” Beachley said. “I think every time that I stopped in my tracks and had to pinch myself and ask ‘is this real?’ have been the highlights of my life. Finding myself in the most random places on Earth, donning a bikini with a board under my arm and just staring out into the ocean in disbelief that I get to do that for a living. One of the greatest achievements was winning my first event back in 1993 and winning my first ASP Women’s World Title back in 1998. Those were both enormous acheivements for me.”
While stepping away from full-time professional surfing, Beachley hasn’t ruled out donning the jersey again should she receive an invite, and will continue to be a force both in and out of the surfing world with her clothing line, her numerous charities and other high-profile projects.
“I have my own brand, Beachley Athletics, which I really want to put a lot more time and energy and effort into,” Beachley said. “I don’t think it’s achieving the success it deserves because I can’t commit enough resources to it. I have my charity, Aim for the Stars. I’ve just begun promoting my book, Beneath the Waves. I will still stage the Beachley Classic. I love women’s surfing. I’m really passionate about it. Just because I’m walking away from the Tour doesn’t mean I’m walking away from women’s surfing. I’ll still be there as a supporter and a believer and also pursuing a career in the media.”
Beachley is competing this week at her signature event, the Beachley Classic, held in Manly, Australia.
“I feel like I’ve created a legacy and that’s something to be incredibly proud of,” Beachley said. “I’ve instilled hunger and passion into the future generations of female competitive surfing coming up through the ranks. I know Steph (Gilmore) looks at me and wants what I got. It was Lisa Andersen before me that gave me the motivation to become seven-times ASP Women’s World Champion. That kind of drive and dedication that it takes to be a champion is the legacy I think I am leaving behind and it’s something I’m very proud of.