The Hurley Pro and Swatch Women's Pro this year will feature a Heritage Series heat between two of the world's best surfers, four-time World Champ Lisa Andersen (USA) and 2004 World Champion Sofia Mulanovich (PER). Among myriad accomplishments, Mulanovich's Title skyrocketed her to fame in South America, where she was the first-ever Title winner not only from Peru, but from the entire continent.
Since retiring from the Championship Tour after the 2013 season, Mulanovich opened Proyecto Sofia, a surf academy for young Peruvians who are invited to attend regardless of socioeconomic background. (Read more about her organization in her WSL interview). Before she paddles out to face her fellow icon, Mulanovich discussed how she sees her role in surfing, her view of Andersen, and where women's surfing is now.
World Surf League: What is your competitive attitude when it comes to surfing against Lisa?
Sofia Mulanovich: Well, Lisa is my idol. I grew up looking up to her and she has always been someone in my mind over time when I go surfing. Her style is just so graceful. However, she did retire the year I started on the tour so we never shared a lot of moments. We did surf a lot as we both rode for Roxy and went on trips together and I really enjoyed my time spent around her on those.
WSL: So how does it feel with this now being a different type of scenario, as your first head-to-head matchup against her?
SM: It should be fun and different. Being able to surf these amazing waves with Lisa will be amazing, so I'm really look forward to it.
WSL: What role do you think you played in women's surfing, both when you were on Tour and now?
SM: I think I played an important role in Latin and South American surfing. Probably Latin surfing more, as I was the first CT rider for Latin America. So I just want to keep that message alive and let Latin American surfers know that it is possible.
WSL: When you were on Tour, who were your biggest rivals?
SM: When I was on tour, probably Chelsea Hedges -- she was one of my biggest rivals. Steph [Gilmore] (AUS) as well. Really everyone, they're all so good and surf so well that it pushes me to do the same even if it's across generations.
WSL: We've obviously seen the rise of Brazil and the "Brazilian Storm." do you see the same thing happening with Latin America?
SM: Yea absolutely, we have the high-caliber surfers and we have the waves so it could definitely happen.
WSL: You started a non-profit called Proyecto Sofia. Is that what you now primarily spend time doing?
SM: Yes, that is primarily what I do with my time. I still have my sponsors as well, though so I spend time with them. But the Project is what I spend a majority of my time focusing on.
WSL: What do you think about how women's surfing is covered in the media? How do you think it has evolved since you were on Tour, and is there anything that you'd still want to see?
SM: I think women's surfing right now is on a good path, the right tools are being utilized to motivate girls to go out there and do their best -- and they are. It feels good for me to watch that definitely.
WSL: Do you think there are any stories that aren't being told related to women's surfing?
SM: I think it's great that we do contests like the ones we do now. Having the structure that we have is great for contests and those competing and helps us succeed.
Don't miss Mulanovich the women's Heritage Heat. And tune in here daily for the latest from the Hurley Pro and Swatch Women's Pro straight from San Clemente, California. Download the WSL App to take the waves with you.