By Anne Beasley Weber, published in Surfing Magazine Easterns Program, 2006
Florida boasts some incredible female surfers–Mimi Munro, Frieda Zamba, Lisa Andersen, and Falina Spires come to mind. The next generation of up and coming pros are girls like Karina Petroni and Connie Arias. It’s time to add another name to the list. Christa Alves of Cocoa Beach has been doing nothing but winning. In four short years of competition, she’s put more first place trophies on her shelf than most career competitors. At 17, Christa has quickly jumped rank from budding amateur to promising pro. Unlike most of the names listed above Christa isn’t a lifelong surfer, she found her ocean muse six years ago.
Competition though, has always been part of Christa’s life. When she was in kindergarten she was introduced to music and various instruments, eventually falling in love with the clarinet. She played it seriously for eight years and loved to play jazz and classical. “I was a total band dork,” laughs Christa. “ I did competitions and everything. I won medals that I put on my band uniform. I loved it” Christa shares all of this in good humor and says the movie American Pie gave band geeks the wrong image and she’s dead serious when she says she still plays the recorder. For the record, no, Christa didn’t go to band camp.
Christa joined the Central Florida ESA in 2003 after stumbling upon a contest on the beach. ESA Competition Director Brian Broom recalls the meeting clearly. “ She just walked up to me and asked me what the contest was all about, how it worked, and how could she get involved. Just a year later, she was killing it.”
Christa qualified for Regionals in 2004 and had what she calls a “shocker” heat- a fifth place finish. The following year she won Regionals and continued her streak at Easterns winning the Girls title. Since then Christa has gone on to win nearly every event offered on the east coast- the Globe Scholastics, the ECSC, the Easter Surf Festival, and the list goes on. “The ESA helped me so much- from heat knowledge and strategizing, to making good friends and polishing my career,” says Christa. “Brian Broom helped me so much along the way. Big thanks to him, he’s the man!”
Brian shares the same admiration for Christa. As competition director for the ESA, he works closely with the most promising east coast surfers and he holds Christa high in the ranks. “She’s extremely gifted and intelligent. In a contest you have to show style, control, and power. It’s harder to do now than ever before with the changes in the judging criteria. Christa just gets it. She has a passion for competition and really knows how to score points. Her stature and dynamic personality will go far. She lights up the whole beach.”
Christa admits last year’s win at Easterns reassured her it was time to step up her game. After winning the Scholastics for the second year in a row, the Under 16 division at the Surfing America USA Championships (as well as keeping her slot on the US Surf Team), Christa had been thinking about doing more pro events. “When you are coming up and trying to make a name for yourself, you have to prove to everyone you can do it,” says Christa. “ I was honored to snag the Easterns title. It’s important- it’s where I’m from. I always had it in the back of my mind to do more pro events and the win in Hatteras really motivated me.”
Christa is a contest junky. She loves everything about them and surprisingly would rather travel to a contest than a secluded surf break. “I can’t wait to get that jersey on,” says Christa. “If I had the choice, I’d want to surf the heat. I’m a really competitive person.” What is Christa’s ultimate contest venue? “I want to surf Snapper Rocks really bad. With four girls out, it would be a dream come true.”
The WQS is definitely in Christa’s future, but for now she will do only select pro events until she graduates in 2007. Like many competitive surfers, Christa chose home school so she can log as much water time as the Florida surf allows. Christa is very outgoing, but she isn’t into staying out late or partying with friends. “I pretty much go to school and go surfing. I have a strict curfew, but it keeps me focused. I have my whole life ahead of me to goof off.”
Christa is working her way into the pro arena and is already stepping on a few toes. In April she beat Karina Petroni in the pro division at the Easter Surf Festival. Christa’s slot on the US Surf Team travel squad will pit her against some of the worlds best up and coming women and training trips to Hawaii will hone her skills in bigger more powerful surf. There’s a bright future ahead for the ESA Jr. Women’s champion so make sure you include her on the Florida’s best list.