Photos by Gunner Hughes
USA Jr. Olympic Surf Team, Sun Bum Ambassador | @kylie.pulcini
Whalebone: Kylie, how did you get involved with Sun Bum?
Kylie: Well, I was selected as Bum of the year in 2018 and I connected with them by writing to them and sending them letters and just kind of connecting with their energy.
WB: And how exactly did you end up on one of their billboards?
Kylie: So they did a post of one of the newest billboards in the Encinitas’ office and I basically commented on their post and said “You guys should just put my beautiful face up there,” as a joke. And a few months later I was up there. My mom was actually connecting with them the whole time. At least it was a good photo, so I didn’t look too bad. Super cool, really nice surprise.
WB: Are you excited to be judging Bum Rush today?
Kylie: Oh my gosh. I can’t even tell you how excited—it was perfect because I’m already up here for Super Girl. And I get to judge with Carissa Moore—I’m pen pals with her, but I’ve never met her. I just can’t wait.
WB: How did you get your start in surfing?
Kylie: I got into surfing when I was eight years old. I went to the School of Surf in Cocoa Beach, and Todd Holland has been my coach ever since.
WB: Who would you say is your idol in surfing?
Kylie: I have so many girls local and all around the world that push me. But Carissa Moore definitely. Just because of her positive attitude and being kind, but still being an amazing surfer that can kill waves.
WB: What do you think it’s important for girls, especially your age to know when they get into surfing?
Kylie: I think it’s just mostly to have fun with it and don’t take it too seriously. It’s good to get hooked on it—and it’s always great to see another girl in the water.
WB: So if you were on the beach and a crew like this with the concept of Bum Rush rolls up and you’re just out for a casual surf, how would it make you feel?
Kylie: It would just stoke me out. It would make me a little nervous, but I would definitely want to put on a show and be as excited as I can be. And of course show them how thankful I am for them to show up.
WB: Who is your biggest fan, do you think?
Kylie: My grandma. She, no matter if my wave is awesome or it’s the worst thing ever, will be screaming like she’s in a football stadium, “Go Ky!”
WB: You have a big heat and/or a tournament, and you come out with a win. What do you want waiting for you on the dinner table when you get home.
Kylie: Just a good quesadilla.
AFTER THE RUSH:
WB: How did you feel about Tyko’s win?
Kylie: Okay. So I’m stoked because I know him! And he’s such a grom. He’s the definition of a grom and he rips—has those long locks of hair that just flips. When we were calling him “hair flip” on the scorecard as soon as he came in, I knew exactly who he was. It was great to see him win and he was so stoked about it. It was just random. He didn’t know until halfway through that he was in the competition. He just went out there to have fun.
WB: How was it judging with GiGi and Carissa?
Kylie: Oh my gosh, it was a dream. It was so fun. I mean just the atmosphere.
WB: How did you get involved with Sun Bum?
GiGi: Sun Bum was one of our first corporate supporters for our nonprofit and their ethos and their mantra completely aligns with what we’re doing and what we’re trying to achieve in the surf industry. And I promise you, it was just love at first hello. We’ve been engaged for probably over a year and a half now and anytime they say they’re going to do something, I’m like, we’re all in.
WB: If you were a young surfer just out on a casual morning surf and this crew rolled up, how would you feel?
GiGi: First of all, the Sun Bum brand is iconic, so you know something big is going down. And then to see the people behind the iron curtain, I probably wouldn’t know what to think. As a surfer, I would get out of the water because I think I would freeze. I would totally freeze. But, the beauty is that I know the people for Sum Bum. They’re extremely kind humans and you know it’s always going to be a good time.
WB: What does it mean to have Carissa come out and judge this event for local surfers?
GiGi: For surfing, accessibility is one of our key pillars and to have someone on Carissa’s level with Carissa’s talent and her notoriety to be accessible in this way, means so much for the future generation of surf. Especially for the girls to be able to touch and see her and just see her have a good time and enjoy the sport of surfing means everything. So, to have Carissa involved, even for myself, is extremely encouraging and a shot in the arm because I know that we’re on the right track.
WB: What’s one thing that you want young women and girls to know about first getting involved with surfing
GiGi: Two things. One, just start. And then two, you’re more than enough. You don’t need anything else except for exactly who you are at exactly that time to be successful.
WB: You come away really proud of your performance. What do you hope is waiting on the dinner table for you?
GiGi: Pizza. Extra pepperoni.
AFTER THE RUSH:
WB: How infectious was it when Tyko won?
GiGi: Oh, his little smile met me from like a hundred yards away. But when he came trotting out and was showing all 24 of his little teeth, the entire time my heart just melted. And Carissa brought up random acts of kindness today—so to be able to do that was incredible.
WB: How was the judging with Carissa and Kylie?
GiGi: Man, it was funny because none of us had a clue what we were doing. So, it was great. We came up with some mantras or, what we call the surfing aloha. The guidelines that we would use. And I feel like it was just so natural for us to be together and to do this.
WB: How did you guys come up with Tyko’s scorecard nickname?
GiGi: Hair Flip! The first wave that we noticed him on, he finished with this really exaggerated hair flip. And we’re like, “Who is that?” Style points all day long—and not to mention, he was able to back it up with some really amazing waves. So, I’m proud of him. He has a bright future.
Carissa Kainani Moore
Five-Time World Champion & Olympic Gold Medalist | @rissmoore10
WB: If you were a young up-and-coming surfer and a crew like this shows up at the beach. How would you feel?
Carissa: Oh my goodness. If I was an up-and-coming surfer and Sun Bum showed up and did a Bum Rush, I would be so psyched. I would be amped and extremely motivated to try to win. It’s so cool to have them do something like this at one of your local beaches on just a day where you’re having fun.
WB: In the past year, what has been the win or competition that has meant most to you and why?
Carissa: I feel very fortunate that this season of my life has felt like I’ve won on a lot of different levels. It’s been a lot just competing—and the growth that I’ve experienced personally has been becoming closer as a team with my husband. The journey that we’ve been on has been the true win out of everything.
WB: What’s something that you think is important for young girls and women getting into surfing to know?
Carissa: To have fun. To know it’s okay to make mistakes. Don’t be hard on yourself. I think that’s something that I wish I did a little bit more of when I was younger. Don’t be so hard on yourself. It’s those mistakes and those little failures that will eventually shape you into the woman that you’re supposed to be. So embrace it and lift each other up. We need each other.
WB: You have a big competition or big heat and you come home. What do you want on the dinner table waiting for you?
Carissa: My husband has actually been fishing a lot lately, so some sort of fish and rice and salad sounds like a really nice way to fuel after a big day.
AFTER THE RUSH:
WB: How infectious was it when Tyko won?
Carissa: I think we definitely chose the right person to win the Bum Rush at Jacksonville. He just had really good energy. You could tell when he was riding the waves—he was passionate, enthusiastic, he was committed, but there was also that flare of fun, which is what surfing is all about and why we all started and why we still do it.
WB: How was it judging with Kylie and GiGi today?
Carissa: I just knew from meeting Kylie via Instagram that there was something really special about her. She’s very open and outgoing. She’s funny. You can tell she has a really big heart—she’s like a ray of sunshine. And I just want more of those kinds of people in my life. So I was so stoked when this all lined up with Sun Bum and Super Girl and the event in Jacksonville that I could come and meet her and spend some time with her.
First time meeting Gigi as well. It was rad. When you meet people for the first time, sometimes it takes a little while to get to know each other. But I think it’s a true testament to the kind of people that they are. That they’re really open and they make you feel welcomed. You’re free to be yourself. Those are great qualities to have and stoked to meet them and share the day with them.