Lisa Andersen: the rebel surfer who conquered the world

February 18, 2022 | Surfing
Lisa Andersen: the four-time world surfing champion who became an icon and inspiration for several generations of female surfers | Photo: Roxy

Lisa Andersen is one of the most successful female surfers of all time. Discover how the rebel tomboy fulfilled the dream of becoming a world surfing champion.

Enigmatic, introspective, talented, and graceful. You could easily state that Lisa Andersen ruled 1990s women's surfing, in and out of the water.

Her always-smiling face and body were all over, in full-page magazine ads, on posters, and in promo videos.

The New Yorker quickly became one of the first global female surfing celebrities by balancing her golden looks with her outstanding skills.

The good-looking blonde's technique and natural ability resulted in a combination of power and grace, athleticism and beauty.

Andersen was able to generate a lot of speed and energy, which was later released in every turn without losing elegance, flow, and charm.

The legendary surf star had a relatively short career of roughly 15 professional seasons due to chronic back health issues.

However, with a trophy room full of awards and accolades, Lisa Andersen is an iconic idol for several generations of male and female surfers.

Lisa Andersen: meet Ms. Trouble | Photo: Andersen Archive

Ms. Trouble

Lisa Andersen was born on March 8, 1969, in Amityville, New York, United States, and raised in Maryland and Virginia.

She has two older brothers and a younger brother.

Lisa's father was an alcoholic who lost his restaurant business, and her younger brother was in and out of jail.

At a very young age, she was already the only girl in her city's men's basketball team.

She started surfing at age 13 after her family moved to Ormond Beach, Florida. Until then, she had never seen surfing.

Two years later, her father destroyed her surfboard.

Lisa's parents didn't want her to surf because they associated the sport with drugs, alcohol, and a beach bum lifestyle.

After running away from home several times, the blonde rebel was placed in juvenile detention.

Actually, Lisa Andersen's most famous nickname is "Trouble." But the good news was that "surfing didn't let me give up," she once stated.

At 16, the youngster bought a one-way plane ticket to Los Angeles with money saved from summer jobs. Lisa left a note saying that she was going to California to become the women's world surfing champion.

Andersen worked part-time as a waitress in Huntington Beach and slept where she could, including on the beach.

Lisa Andersen: the American surfer won four consecutive world titles from 1994 to 1997 | Photo: WSL

The Road to Glory

One day, Australian surfing legend and National Scholastic Surfing Association (NSSA) director Ian Cairns find the blue-eyed teenager sleeping below a table placed in a contest's scaffolding.

Lisa wanted to compete without her parents' authorization, and Cairns eventually allowed her to enter the event.

In 1986, after eight months and dozens of trophies, the East Coast-born surfer embarked on her first trip abroad to Newquay, England, for the World Amateur Championships in Cornwall.

Aged 17, the teenager won the girls' division of the United States Surfing Championships, placed third in the World Surfing Championships, and turned professional.

Andersen was named Rookie of the Year in 1987.

Undermined by fragile self-confidence, Lisa Andersen struggled to impose her talent in competition. As a result, her maiden world title only arrived seven seasons after her debut.

In 1992, she signed her first sponsorship deal with Quiksilver.

The American surfer won four consecutive ASP Women's World Tour titles in 1994, 1995, 1996, and 1997.

Andersen cites Frieda Zamba as her inspiration to fulfill her goal to "surf like a guy," but also Bethany Hamilton, Silvana Lima, Courtney Conlogue, and Stephanie Gilmore.

In March 1993, the Floridian pro surfer married head judge Renato Hickel. The couple's first child - Erica - was born five months later.

Interesting, Andersen competed while pregnant and only missed the last event of the season.

Five weeks after giving birth, the American athlete got back into competition mode and initiated a glorious path to stardom.

In 1994, the professional surfer co-designed and released the world's first function-over-fashion female boardshorts with her sponsor Roxy.

In August, the talented regular-footer won the US Open of Surfing.

In 1995, at the end of the season, Andersen herniated a disk in the back and almost lost the title race to Pauline Menczer.

Lisa Andersen: the Floridian surfer was able to generate a lot of speed and energy | Photo: Andersen Archive

"She Surfs Better Than You"

At the end of the year, she landed the cover of Surfer Magazine with an impactful caption: "Lisa Andersen surfs better than you."

In 1996, the regular-footer left Hickel, saying she "just wasn't interested in him after Erica was born."

In the same year, Reef Sandals launched the Lisa Andersen signature shoe.

In 1997, Lisa Andersen was the subject of an Annie Leibovitz photoshoot.

The four-time world champion's back issues returned in July 1998, forcing Andersen to miss the second half of the season, and the subsequent year.

The Floridian power surfer made a comeback in 2000 and finished the season ranked fifth;

Her last grand victory was at the 2000 Billabong Pro in Anglet, France. In the final, she beat her rival, Layne Beachley.

A few months later, the Long Island-born powerhouse gave birth to her second child - Mason - from the relationship with Paul Osbaldiston.

In 2008, she married baseball player Tim Shannon.

Andersen was granted a wildcard for 2002 but failed to qualify for the 2003 season.

Lisa Andersen: a good-looking surfer with above average skills and talent | Photo: Roxy

Surf Legend Status

The blonde champion was inducted into the Surfer's Hall of Fame in 2002 and into the Surfing Walk of Fame in 2004.

The Surf Industry Manufacturers Association (SIMA) named Lisa Andersen Waterman of the Year in 2007.

Lisa Andersen is 5'7" (1.70 meters) and weighs around 125 pounds (54 kilograms).

The American surfer's biography was written by Nick Carrol. "Fearlessness: The Story of Lisa Andersen" was published in 2007.

She's been featured in several surf movies and videos, including "Atlantic Crossing" (1989), "Surfers: The Movie "(1990), "Triple C" (1996), "Performers III" (1999), "Tropical Madness" (2001), and "Trouble: The Lisa Andersen Story" (2019).

Andersen was Cameron Diaz's stunt double in "Charlie's Angels Full Throttle" (2003). The film's shooting took place at Backdoor, on the North Shore of Oahu.

Hawaii is Lisa's favorite travel destination. She still surfs and currently lives in Florida.

Lisa Andersen is on Facebook (@lisaandersenofficial) and Instagram (@andersenlisa).