"I think a lot women grow up thinking that they have to live within certain boundaries and in the surfing world males are a lot more progressive and powerful and surf bigger waves than females," Lakey Peterson said recently. "Girls grow up thinking that girls don't do airs, so they don't try them. So it's more of a mental thing and it's about putting the effort into doing them."
Lakey was talking during a series for Beach Grit where she tried to learn how to do a full rotation under the tutelage of Filipe Toledo. While she didn't quite crack the full rotation, she gained a better understanding of what was required. What is more important, she made a commitment to make it happen.
Already known as one of surfing's most progressive surfers on the women's Championship Tour (CT), that renewed commitment means she is now just getting started. With her athleticism, talent and forward thinking, there lies the real potential for Lakey to put some serious distance between her and her peers when it comes to progressive surfing.
A good place to start that process will be the Oi Rio Women's Pro. Peterson will arrive at the event as World No. 5 on the Jeep Leaderboard, having lit up various sections of the Australia leg of the CT. Her performances, particularly at Snapper, but also at Bells, showed that there was a new dynamism to her surfing.
Maybe the enforced time off last year due to a broken ankle has sharpened her competitive focus. In her sixth year on the CT she may have realized that now is the time to really cash in on her significant talents and do better than her career-best finishes as World No. 6. Alternatively, it could be that she is simply in a great place; healthy, happy and determined to squeeze every last drop of fun and success out of life. She may even think that it is up to her to kick down a few of the boundaries she believes are holding women back in surfing.
Whatever the reason, or reasons, the Oi Rio Women's Pro comes at a good time for Peterson. After the deep water reefs of Bells and Margaret's, Saquarema provides a better platform for her to showcase the most radical aspects of her surfing.
She has already proved this year that she has what it takes to consistently match the best surfers in the world in a variety of waves. However if her goal is to be a leader in the most progressive aspects of surfing, Rio is a location that allows her fins-free, boundary-pushing surfing to really come to the fore.