Friday, November 30, 2012

Splashing around with Pro Surfer and Model Anastasia Ashley


Anastasia Ashley gettin' vertical. Photo by Chris Grant, JettyGirl.
I recenlty wrote an article on surfing superstar and model Anastasia Ashley for Pacific San Diego magazine. Below is the longer, unedited version of my story, along with some killer photos of Anastasia by the awesomely talented Chris Grant from JettyGirl online surf mag.  (I highly recommend clicking on each photo to see a larger version. Chris has some major  photog skills!)

At 25, Anastasia Ashley has already graced the pages of numerous magazines for her surfing and modeling prowess,  has starred in her own MTV documentary, and was even featured in Playboy (in a bikini).
But the SoCal surfer girl, whom Hugh Hefner once referred to as a “sea goddess,” is as down-to-Earth as they get (when she’s not pulling airs of course). Don’t let her good looks and sex appeal intimidate you – she’ll do that in the surf line-up.  Anastasia – who won the professional surf tour in the United States at age 16 and was the 2010 women’s Pipeline Pro champion – has been a water baby since the age of 5.  The Los Angeles-born beauty naturally picked up surfing at an early age, spending time between the North Shore of Ohua in Hawaii and Southern California.
Anastasia’s surfing talents have even landed her a major sponsorship with Airwalk (she even has her own signature shoe). When asked about her life, the role of women’s surfing, and being a “sex symbol” Anastasia talks candidly and freely as if she was kickin’ it in a T-shirt, leggings and a pair of sneaks.  Friend and professional surf photographer Chris Grant describes Anastasia this way: “She walks to the beat of a different drummer and doesn't abide by conventional surf industry rules. She has an interesting rebel streak. She speaks her mind and doesn't shy from controversy.”

Although Anastasia is a member of a growing cadre of strong female surfers, she knows she will always be compared to the males in her sport.
“In any sport the males typically get more sponsorships and attention,” says Anastasia, who was also a competitive swimmer between the ages of 5 and 12. “There aren’t as many women pro surfers, so there is less competition but also less opportunity.”
Needless to say, however, Anastasia is keen on the power of surf advertising and has used it to a certain extent to help catapult her career.

“If you look at advertising around the world, surfing is one of the most marketed lifestyle images – the image of you in your swimsuit and on the beach and on your board. The reason it is so marketable to brands is because it is a desirable lifestyle,” she says. “The more companies and brands that support female surfing the better. I have had great support from all of my sponsors.”

Photo: Chris Grant
Unlike many surfers who have grown weary of crowded surf breaks, Anastasia welcomes newcomers to the sport of kings and queens.
“I think the more people learning how to surf, and sharing the sport with other people is a good thing,” she says. “I think in a sense I wouldn’t have a job if people didn’t want to learn how to surf.”

As for her modeling career, Anastasia sees it as an extension of her surfing career.
“I never pursued modeling; I mainly consider it as advertising for my sponsors,” she says. “It’s a lot of fun and I love dressing up and having someone do my hair and make-up.”

She is also quick witted when asked about her stance on being labelled a “sexy” surfer.  Like many female ocean gems, Anastasia has experienced the stereotype of women in the surf world. For her, however, it just comes with the job.
“Surfing is my number one focus; I am a surfer first. No matter what people say, whether it’s positive or negative, I don’t mind it,” she says.  “There are a lot of beautiful female surfers. But you can’t just be pretty and cut it. You have to be a good athlete as well. Sometimes people forget that and focus more on appearances. For myself, I have accomplished things that I can back myself up talent wise and I know my ability.

“It’s funny because the female surfing side gets a lot of brunt,” Anastasia continues. “People say women get sponsorship because they are attractive.  Overall, surfing is a very over-sexualized sport and people forget it’s on the male side too. You also have attractive and ripped male surfers modeling with their shirts off.”
Anastasia’s powerful surfing skills have taken her around the globe and back, including France, Spain, Portugal, Indonesia, Equator, Japan, Panama and Micronesia, to name a few. Going global has given her a broader insight on how others live.
“Traveling to Third World countries gives me more of a global perspective of things like poverty and struggles of other countries and how lucky it makes you feel to live in America and the different rights we have,” she says.  

                                                                           Photo: Chris Grant

While she has enjoyed globetrotting and the limelight, Anastasia, who also goes by the nickname Stasia, insists that her life is not all that “bling.”
“I’m really boring,” she admits. “I have the same group of friends I have had for years that keep me grounded.  I do consider myself pretty normal.  If you are blessed enough to do a professional sport or be in entertainment, you have to give up some of your personal life and give people access to parts of your life. I don’t have a problem with that because it’s an exchange for what I do.”
This is what a “typical” day is like for Anastasia when she is at home in San Clemente, Calif.:
“When I get up I check the waves. If it’s good I will go surf and then I will come back and check emails, maybe go on Facebook or Twitter, and catch up with sponsors. Then I usually go work out at the gym and train, and then grab lunch or dinner with a friend, then maybe try to surf again if it’s good. My days are pretty active – they revolve around surfing and working out.”

Anastaisa’s work out usually consists of spinning, weight training and sometimes beach runs. She also occasionally does Pilates.  While she calls San Clemente home, Anastasia frequently surfs and plays in San Diego.
“There are so many things I love about San Diego – you can go to the beach and surf or go for a long run, then go to dinner with friends, or you can go to a professional football or baseball game.  I like how active everyone is in San Diego and I like the vibe. San Diego is more laid back than L.A.”

                                                                 Photo: Chris Grant

She likens San Diego to her description of surfing: Relaxing.
The thing I like about surfing is it’s an individual sport and you can go whenever you want on your own and you are disconnected from everything. It’s a really relaxing and calming thing for me.”
In between relaxing, catching airs, and photo shoots, Anastasia is a staunch advocate and activist for animal rights and the environment. She works with PETA, and in conjunction with Surfrider Foundation’s Oahu chapter, she and Airwalk sponsor an annual beach clean-up at North Shore’s Sunset Beach Park. Anastasia has also given her support to Young Faces of ALS, which brings awareness to the progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord.
As a young professional female athlete, Anastasia also feels that it is her duty to be a positive role model for young girls and women.
“There has been a positive influx of so many great, aspirational female athletes who can be looked up to as role models, which is very important to me,” she says. “I just like being out there and want to continue what I’m doing and prove that you can be a female athlete and be feminine and respected at the same time.

For my Pacific Magazine story, check out:


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