For those avid fans of professional surfing Brisa Hennessy needs no introduction. The long time T&C team rider has been on a tear lately, racking up accolades and rising to the top of the WSL ranks. This last year she placed top 5 on the women’s Championship Tour and took first place at the Hurley Pro at Sunset Beach. She also qualified for and surfed in the very first Olympic surfing contest at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Brisa qualified for the WSL Championship Tour in 2019 at the young age of 20. Before that at the junior level she was an NSSA Open Women’s national champ, 2x under 18 USA champ, and US Open Jr. Champ. In the water Brisa is a fierce competitor with a wicked forehand snap. Out of the water, she’s full of Aloha, with an infectious smile and a friendly, approachable vibe. We had the pleasure of catching up with her for a little interview…
First off a late congrats on all your recent accomplishments. Winning the Hurley Pro at Sunset, an amazing finish to the 2022 season, and of course representing Costa Rica in the 2020 Olympics! I’m sure that was an amazing feeling! What did surfing in the first Olympic surfing event mean to you and what were some of the highlights of just being there?
Thanks so much, I really appreciate it, I couldn’t have done it without my amazing support crew. It was a surreal experience being a part of such an iconic moment for the sport and to be finally recognized at the highest level. Also getting the opportunity to represent the country I found my love for surfing was so special. It truly gave me a bigger drive of why I do this, to hopefully inspire that little girl to go surfing. Some of the highlights were definitely being amongst the best athletes in the world, feeling all the love and support from Costa Rica and getting to know my fellow Costa Rican teammates.
You finished the year 5th place and surfed in the final event at Trestles. Talk about what that was like. Was there a lot of pressure going into such a high stakes event?
I feel like the moments and heats leading up to the final 5 were the most pressure I felt all year. When I finally made the top 5, a weight was almost lifted from my shoulders and I truly felt free. Of course I felt a little pressure as I did want to perform but I knew I did all the work and it was my time to let go and to embrace such an incredible moment.
At events you seem steely nerved and hyper-focused, but outside of the contest zone, you seem so care-free and at ease. Is there something you do to prepare for that competitive mindset and how do you balance both of those sides of yourself?
To be honest it has been such a never ending challenge for me. I think having clear goals on who you want to be in and out of the water as well as in and out the jersey, I have to check in on those goals often. As I find more comfortability and confidence with who I am on land/water I begin to find more balance and freedom to be myself in both worlds.
You seem like you have a great support crew around you, an amazing family, a disciplined health and fitness regiment, and I take it you’re a bit of a vegan chef? Please talk a bit about some of the people in your corner and how all this adds to your motivation and success.
Your support crew is everything, it is your foundation, it’s what keeps you balanced and whole. From my family, to my sponsors, to my mental coach, to my friends they are all such a key component to making me who I am. I’m so grateful everyday to the incredible village that has my back no matter what. They motivate me to be my best and they support me in the good times but most importantly in all the struggles.
The Hawaii surf season is just kicking off, are you excited to be back?
I’m feeling every emotion! The energy here is unlike anywhere else and it’s a place where you truly feel challenged, tested and reinvigorated as a surfer. I’m excited to put in the time and the hard work out here.
What are you most excited about going into the Hawaii season?
I think approaching it with a new fresh perspective and drive. Last year was the first time the women competed at Pipe and so now going into this year I’m excited to push myself even more and learn as much as I can.
What’s next for Brisa?! What are some goals you have set for yourself finishing this year and going into the next?
I think my biggest goals are of course making the final 5, winning a few events but above anything I really want to perform, enjoy the process, bring out the best version of myself in and out of the water and hopefully the rest will follow. I truly am grateful for all the experiences and the beautiful people in my life and I hope to continue to slow down and enjoy every moment.
We have enjoyed watching Brisa’s journey so far and will be tuned in to where her path leads her next!