The first two things you notice when you first see Piper Harrison are the big shock of blonde hair and the fluorescent surfboard. But this Grade 11 student has been surfing since before she could walk. Now sixteen-year-old Piper is the Queensland Open Women’s Surfing Champion, and has scored a spot in the trials for the 2018 Roxy Pro at Snapper. Piper’s future is as bright as her surfboard.
So what is it like being an up and coming surfer girl on the Gold Coast? I’ve always wondered how do all you girls get on in and out of the water?
I’m originally from Victoria where one of the only other girls that surfed with me every day was my mum. So moving up to the Goldy was pretty crazy, there so many more people greedy and ready to do anything to catch a wave especially out snapper. But I guess that all part of the culture up here at the moment. Currently being a female surfer is pretty cool, women’s sport especially surfing is becoming more and more respected which makes it easier for me to just paddle out, surf and not feel intimidated because most of the time there are a few other girls out there. It doesn’t really matter if you know them or not but the female surfing community really supports each other out in the water which is awesome.
So what is the go with the Fluoro Boards? Is it a 1980’s flashback?
Haha… no definitely not an 80’s flash back. Ever since Marlon (my younger brother) and I were little we have had fluro boards and it has just kind of become out trade mark since we moved. People can see who we are in the water and on land. But one of the main reasons for the fluro is that mum can pick us from the beach when it’s really crowded in the surf. We can also pick each other which is helpful when you know you have missed the bus to school because the surf is pumping, and Marlon (Little Brother) just wants one more barrel.
I see that you are a bit of an action gal, what other sports do you have a go at and to what level?
Currently I still compete in lifesaving at a national level, so that is made up of swimming, paddling and running, which all really a great way to cross train but I absolutely love competing still. I also use to be a national cross-country runner but that kind of clashes with surfing a lot, so now I do it more for fun.
Who are your favorite surfers, and why?
Yeah, I can’t really nail it down to one surfer because there are so many surfers I admire because of different aspects of them style, power, personality etc. But if I had to pick a couple it would have to be firstly Kelly slater, the man is a freak of nature he can do anything he sets his mind to. Kelly combines an equally mind blowing power, rail and air game this is pretty much everything I hope to be able to do in the future. Steph Gilmore is another one of my all-time favorites she pretty much has the best style in the business, her barrel riding is ridiculous and unlike any of the other girls on tour it’s so relaxed, Steph makes surfing look easy even when doing some of the craziest turns.
Who would you say are your female role models?
I’m pretty lucky to have such an amazing mum and I would definitely say she is my biggest role model, I just hope I am half as amazing as her when I’m older. Other than my mum one of my all-time biggest female role models is Sally Fitzgibbons, she was able to succeed in really high levels of more than one sport. Another thing I am inspired from is Sally so well balanced and has a pretty amazing vibe about her. Sally is super strong and determined, she just keeps push her limits, which is think is something I hope to be able to do.
Your little bro Marlon surfs pretty good too. Is there any sibling rivalry, and do you push each other to do better?
Yeah he’s defiantly ripping at the moment, of course there is sibling rivalry we always fight over who’s the better surfer in the family other than dad, dad is always first but Marlon and I have a pretty awesome relationship. We are always bouncing feedback to each other out in the surf, he is defiantly one of my biggest supporters and it’s great to have someone like that, that pretty much knows what you go through on a daily basis to really push you to your limits. Marlon and I surf a lot of heats together to work on that side, but we try and set new tasks and goal for each other which I think has defiantly pushed us to do better. We also know if one of us lands a new maneuver that the other is defiantly capable to do it as well.
The level of women’s surfing is getting better and better every year, do you just surf as training, or do you do any other sort of coaching or training to get to the level you want?
No, I think cross training is very important. Just surfing is great but with the level of surfing improving like it is especially women’s it is important to train. I surf almost every day but I also do swim training, gym, running and lifesaving. I find personally when I’m training super hard my body performs better out in the water, not sure if it a mental thing but it works for me.
You recently won the Open Queensland Women’s Title, and with that comes a Wildcard to the Roxy Pro Trials at Snapper Rocks in 2018. You have to get to through the trials, but what would it be like to get to take on the best women surfers in the world at your home break?
Yes, winning the wild card is a step in the right direction, I think even being in the trails is a great opportunity. Surfing against some of my biggest idols on my home break would be amazing but there is still a long path to get there through the trials, because of all of the awesome talent coming through at the moment it will not be easy but hopefully that’s where I can bring a bit of my home ground knowledge into my surfing.
So if you see a shock of blonde hair and fluoro board racing down the line towards you at the Superbank, pull back and let her go because it’s more than likely Piper and, let’s face it. She probably surfs better than you!