Lisa Andersen’s rise to the highest echelon of the sport is a story of overcoming adversity, challenging the status quo and chasing the surfing dream to the fullest. Born in Long Island, New York, in 1969, her family moved to Ormond Beach, Florida, when he was 13 years old. It was here that she was first introduced to surfing.
“My love of surfing was instant,” said Andersen in an article for The Guardian. “My parents did not want me to surf. They associated surfing with drugs, alcohol and a ‘beach bum’ lifestyle. They thought there was nothing productive about sitting around on a surfboard.”
Ironically, Andersen’s family situation was hardly idyllic. She ran away from home when she was 16 years old and landed in Huntington Beach with nothing more than some personal items and a surfboard. Her early days on the West Coast were not easy. Sleeping under benches and in empty homes, she dedicated herself to becoming the best surfer that she could. She competed in local contests and clipped newspaper articles in which her name appeared. In 1986 she made her first foray onto the international surf scene, competing in the World Amateur Championships in Newquay, England. She’d go on to win 30 National Scholastic Surfing Association trophies in under a year and capture the 1987 national title (the same year she was named ASP Rookie of the Year).
In 1992, with her career on the rise, Andersen landed a sponsorship deal with surf wear brand Quiksilver. The relationship would morph into a new women’s specific brand: Roxy. Immediately and immensely successful, it was Andersen’s inspired performances that helped launch the brand. Starting in 1994, she claimed four consecutive world titles. From runaway to world champion, she had accomplished what she set out to do…and then some. Andersen had her daughter Erica when she was 23 and very quickly became adept at juggling both competitive and parenting pressures.
Andersen was named as one of the 100 Greatest Sportswomen of the Century by Sports Illustrated for Women. She was also named the 1998 Female Athlete of the Year by Conde Nast Sports for Women magazine and is a six-time winner of Surfer Magazine’s Readers Poll.
Andersen stepped away from full-time competition in 2001. Today, she lives in San Clemente with her husband, Tim. She continues to be involved with Roxy and remains a loyal, loving mother to her two children, Erica and Mason. She also just got a new puppy named Makana, which keeps her busy and smiling.