Kirsty Shaw is a 16-year-old Nyungar girl from Margaret River in Western Australia who loves sport and exercise. Skateboarding and tennis are two of her favourites, but what she really excels at is surfing.
Even though she’s only been riding a board for three years, Kirsty won first place in the junior girls and open women divisions of the recent Wardandi Indigenous Surf Classic.
“I was stoked to win both events,” says Kirsty. “It was the first time I had competed in an Indigenous surf event at all. It was also great to win because I’d just had three months off due to a knee operation.”
‘Shawry’, as her friends call her, is in year 11 at Margaret River High School. She tries to head down to the surf four or five times a week, between part-time jobs like babysitting and coaching other young Aboriginal girls in the art of riding the waves.
Kirsty got into surfing after watching her dad and his mates carving it up. Her mum tells us that Kirsty has always loved the water and even won a couple of age championships at school, so it’s no surprise to hear that she took to the board like a natural. And with former Australian champion Mike McAullisse as her mentor, we reckon Kirsty’s probably outsurfing her dad these days!
“I love surfing because I can get away from everything in life,” she says. “All I think about is surfing. I prefer surfing to other sports because it’s different – not every day is the same.”
Kirsty prefers to ride the shortboard because it’s faster and more manoeuvrable than a malibu.
Next on the agenda is the Australian Titles in South Australia, where she hopes to do her best yet. Kirsty is also aiming to join the Billabong Junior Circuit, and from there to progress to the Billabong Women’s Circuit.
When asked if she wants to turn professional she says, “It’s in the back of my mind, but I’ll just take it as it comes.”
DEADLY VIBE STARWATCH
What is your full name:
How old are you:
Where are you from:
Margaret River, WA.
Were you born there:
No, I was born in Perth.
Are you the oldest, somewhere in the middle, the baby, or an only child:
Oldest, I have a younger brother.
What do your friends call you:
Kirst and Shawry.
What was the first sporting event you ever saw:
Watching my dad in the Coffs Harbour Surf Classic.
When did you start playing sport:
I’ve been playing sport ever since I can remember.
If you could form a team with your choice of players, who would they be and what would you call it:
It would be in the Australian Titles in the tag team event. The people in my team would be: myself, Jamie Wheatly, Jake Malloy, Rye Craike, John Davies and Claire Bevelique.
What’s the funniest thing you’ve ever done:
One day I was with my friend Skye at her surf shop and we went out to the back shed and found two ‘fruit salad’ outfits. So we put them on with our jogging shoes and ran up the street. That was pretty funny.
What sport do you follow in your spare time:
Name a song that most describes who you are:
“My Island Home” by Christine Anu.
What CD do you have in your CD player at the moment:
So Fresh – Various Artists.
Who are your favourite Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander musicians:
Yothu Yindi and Christine Anu.
Most fulfilling experience in your life so far:
Winning the State titles the first time I competed in them. That was great because I trained really hard for them!
What is your best asset:
What would you most like to change about yourself:
Nothing, I’m happy with who I am.
Who’s real deadly in your eyes:
My dad, Mike McAullisse, and Kyli Manchester.
If you could have anything printed on a T-shirt that you had to wear for the rest of your life, what would it say:
“Follow your dreams” – and it would have an Aboriginal painting of a dolphin on it.
What’s your favourite part of Australia:
You’re invited to a fancy dress party. Who or what do you go as:
One of the Powerpuff Girls.
What animal or bird are you most like:
Make one prediction about 2002:
Hope to achieve all goals set and to finish school.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years time:
Travelling the world in surfing competitions and putting back into the sport what I got out of it.
Deadly Vibe Issue 70 December 2002
She’s been selected to represent Western Australia after winning the biggest surfing competition in the state. But for Nyungar girl Kirsty Shaw, it’s more about making waves than making the big time.
“I like to focus on one thing at a time,” says Kirsty. “I want to start off small and aim to get bigger.”
That said, she’s already won this year’s Gracetown Grommets Classic, has secured a spot in the state surfing team and is about to compete at the upcoming Australian titles. Not bad for a 17 year old.
But her success comes as no surprise to those who know their surfing. The daughter of legendary surfer Mick Shaw, who recently became the Australian Over-40s champion, Kirsty has learnt from the best.
“My dad used to do the competitions on the East Coast, so I grew up watching comps. My whole family surfs and that’s how I got into it when I was about 13.”
These days Kirsty and her dad spend as much time surfing together as they can.
“I always go surfing with Dad ” I’m so lucky that my whole family surfs. It keeps you healthy and fit and brings everyone closer together.
“When dad won the Aussie titles it was pretty good because I know how hard he tries. It’s a good example to me that if you work hard you can get where you want to be,” she adds.
With a gruelling training routine that would make the rest of us hit the snooze button and roll over, Kirsty is no stranger to hard work.
“I train every day. You’ve got to be motivated to wake up in the morning and go for a run and go to the pool. I also train in the surf, doing heat drills in my head to practise for competitions.”
Apart from getting up super-early every morning to train, Kirsty also works a couple of jobs to pay for her competitions.
“I have to save money to pay for the comps myself. It’s really expensive ” the Aussie titles cost $600 to go in, plus we have to do three training camps in preparation, which also cost money.”
Luckily, Kirsty’s talent on the board has attracted a few sponsors who help her out with supplies such as surfboards (Pulse) and clothes (Rip Curl). But it’s not about getting the best sponsors so much as getting the best waves.
And sometimes Kirsty has got a bit more than she bargained for, like when she was surfing at the Bluff, an hour out of Carnarvon.
“I took up on one wave and my leg rope got wrapped around a rock under the water. I had to try and take my rope off while I was underwater and there was this huge set coming through!” she exclaims.
But it’s precisely this sort of challenge that keeps Kirsty going back for more.
“I love it because every day you experience something different and you never get the same conditions. I love a challenge.”
(Story 1/12/2002 end)