Oakley Catches Up w/ Layne Beachley

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MM: Hey Layne, thanks for getting back to me for this interview. My first question to you is what was the most memorable part about this amazing seventh world title season on tour?

LB: I approached this season with a completely different attitude, both mentally and emotionally. I learned such valuable lessons due to allowing myself to compete without the enormous amount of pressure and expectation I normally place on myself. Being able to come back from a severe disk that I herniated in my neck by avoiding surgery and giving myself 5 months out of the water to rest and recover enabled me to put my life back into perspective and re-ignite my passion and enthusiasm for surfing. I surfed with my heart and not my head this year, making it the most satisfying and rewarding world title I have ever had the privilege to win.

MM: Being a huge fan of you and Lisa Anderson, what is different about the tour from when you won your first title and this year?

LB: The competitiveness of the girls coming through is incredible! The world champion no longer intimidates them and they seem to have a lot more hunger, desire and discipline. I am also witnessing a huge movement in the talent of the youth with teenagers such as Carrissa Moore, Steph Gilmore and Sally Fitzgibbons performing with maturity well above their years. It’s an exciting time to be a female professional surfer.

MM: You have been with Oakley for a long time; please explain how the relationship started?

LB: I first signed up with Oakley in 1994 while I was competing down at one of my favorite events at Bells Beach. Somehow I had talked my way into the Oakley VIP hospitality tent and was given a pair of glasses after telling them that all I wore as a kid where Oakley Frogskins. Fortunately I won the Bells event that year and the relationship just developed from there. It’s amazing how simple it used to be to strike up a deal back then as both sides had relatively few expectations of each other. Much different to how it works today.

MM: What attracted you to Oakley first?

LB: Their style, commitment to being the best at what they do and their passion and support for there team riders.

MM: You and Oakley have grown a lot from your initially years, what new things at Oakley are you most stoked on?

LB: Their product. I am so proud to represent a brand that prides itself on innovation and quality. I am a big fan of the thumps! People do look at me strangely if I’m walking around singing to myself as they can’t see the earphones coming off the arms of the sunnies but they are awesome to rock out to. I also appreciate the fact that nothing is ever too hard. You can ask them for anything and they will always go out of their way to help you out.

MM: Oakley is making a huge push for women specific lifestyle products, what does this mean to you?

LB: It means that we have a stylish brand and an innovative quality product to wear that not only makes you look good but feels good as well. I love the new women’s sunnies line and their golf gear and boardies are really well designed and comfortable.

MM: What should Oakley be paying most attention to when rolling out a women’s specific product line?

LB: Women!

MM: With number eight on the horizon, do you feel 2007 could be the year?

LB: After being slaughtered by a 14 year old in the first event of the season on the Gold Coast in early March I would have to admit that there is a lot of work to be done. I felt confident coming into this year but feel that my preparation wasn’t ideal so if I am going to be a challenger for the world title this year then I am going to have to step it up a notch. One of my motivations behind staying on tour for my 18th year stems from the talent coming through the ranks and how much they push me to become a better surfer. I embrace challenge and feel that this year is going to be one of the toughest yet.

MM: What has enabled you to have such a long and successful career on tour?

LB: My longevity on tour is the result of passion, dedication, the desire to improve and my love of competition. I love what I do. I have also learned to establish a homely feel in every location I compete at. Even if I’m there for only a couple of days I unpack and move on in to avoid covering the place in clothes and bikinis. I have realized over time that what my mind can conceive, my body can achieve but there has to be a balance in life. I have allowed myself time away from the beach to rejuvenate and through personal challenges such as chronic fatigue I realized that I must listen to my body and give it plenty of time to rest. I push myself very hard, mentally and physically so it is really important to allow myself some down time. The most successful person is the one having the most fun!

MM: How much longer would you like to compete on tour?

LB: As long as my heart is in it. I play to win but I also play to learn. When the desire to compete, train, focus and improve begins to fade then I know it will be time to walk away. I feel that I have nothing left to prove. I have achieved more than I ever thought was possible. All I wanted was to be a world champion and now I am a 7 times world champion. I am very proud of that and have experienced life-changing lessons throughout the journey, though adversity, victory and defeat. If I am not committed to competing at the most elite level with the passion and dedication that is required then I am just wasting my time and everybody else’s. One thing I have learned is to not put limitations on myself. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be on tour for 18 years, nor did I expect it to take me 8 years on tour before winning my first world title! Life is what you make of it.

MM: What are your plans after the tour, you are involved in some many things… What might be your top focal points?

LB: I am a busy woman that struggles to say the word NO! I am currently in the process of developing my own brand that will incorporate athletic wear and casual wear for women. I have a jewelry line called Beachley that is inspired by my love of the ocean and all of its elements. I also stage the richest event in women’s surfing history in Manly, Australia (my home break), along with championing women through my charity called the Aim For The Stars Foundation (aimforthestars.com.au). I also represent Unicef, Breast Cancer, Planet Ark and Australian Tourism as a charity ambassador and am an executive board member on the ASP (association of surfing professionals), representing the women as a whole. I am in the process of writing my biography, promoting my DVD called Life In The Fast Lane, dating a rock star from INXS and finding time to surf and spend quality time with my friends and family, all the while traveling the world surfing. Phewwwww, I’m exhausted just thinking about it all!!

MM: You have been such a great self-promoter over the years, where did you learn that skill set?

LB: My natural gift of the gab has enabled me to become the self-promoter that I am today. It is easy talking about things that you are passionate about and over the years I have learned how to use the media as much as it uses me. Obviously I am very opinionated and am willing to stand up for what I believe it in and fight. I am open and honest and take my responsibility as a role model very seriously, which has created a legion of fans that I am very proud of. I accept responsibility for my actions and am also prepared to say sorry, admit when I’m wrong or accept criticism when it’s due.

Thank you Layne, best of luck this season!