First Light Spotlight - Anastasia Ashley

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We had the opportunity to catch up with Anastasia Ashley and ask her some questions about life and surfing. But first, we had to take her out for a morning surf at one of our favorite beaches in Carlsbad. In this Spotlight Interview, we dive into Anastasia's surfing journey, the impact of the ocean on her mood and mindset, and the evolving landscape of female empowerment in the sport.


Q. What got you into surfing?

Anastasia - I grew up around Orange County, California, and then moved to Hawaii when I was about five years old. In California I always lived by the ocean and thought it was really cool, and would swim and boogie board and stuff like that. Then when I moved to Hawaii, I basically was like, “Oh my gosh, I need to try surfing. It looks so cool.” But I didn't really know anyone that surfed. Both my parents never surfed. No one in my family surfed. So I just kind of made friends at the beach, you know, older surfers and other kids. I borrowed a board and started surfing that way which I feel is pretty unique. For a lot of surfers, usually it comes from their dad or someone that they personally know, but I kind of just started from strangers.

Q. Out of all the places you've surfed, do you have a favorite spot?

Anastasia - One of my longtime faves is Bali. It’s an amazing place. I love the culture. Traveling there is a lot of fun too. For closer destinations, I enjoy surfing all over Southern California and the North Shore of Hawaii.

Q. How does surfing and being in the ocean affect your mood and mindset?

Anastasia - It's a great way for me to reset and recharge. It's definitely great for my mind. I'm constantly connected for my work whether it’s my phone, my computer, or talking to people. So surfing is a nice way to get away from technology and be out in the ocean on your own and really have no distractions. So I think it's great.

anastasia ashley, surfer, model, surfing, girl, first light surf club, interview, dawn patrol, spotlight

Q. What does community mean to you and how has surfing and the ocean shaped your community?

Anastasia - Something really cool about the surfing community is that you have this universal commonality and passion that transcends geographical areas. It transcends age. It transcends all these different things. Right? You would probably not be friends with someone out of your social circle normally. But I feel like surfing is unique because, like, I have friends who are like 12 years old and I have friends who are 70 years old that surf. Because of surfing, I have friends all over the world. And what's really cool about it is that maybe we don't have anything in common in our life or anything else, but we share the love of surfing and the nuances of being a surfer. Surfing draws people together, and I think that's pretty cool. That just kind of shows how the surfing community is so wide yet so small at the same time.

Q. The surfing community has progressed quite a bit in recent years with empowering female surfers. How have you seen that progression firsthand, and how do you think we can get more females in the lineup?

Anastasia - Yeah, something that was really cool for me was to see how many girls you had come to your First Light Surf Club event and meetup. I think that shows that, you know, obviously there's such a demand for females wanting to be involved in sports and other cool activities. It's really cool to see how the sport of surfing has grown so much. When I started surfing 30 years ago, I would often for years be the only girl out in the water. So it's pretty cool now when I paddle out to a lot of different lineups and I see a few girls or a group of girls. Or, sometimes the ratio is pretty even. I think it’s really cool just seeing the sport grow and showing that it is accessible to everyone no matter your race, age, or sex. It's a great sport and it's something that's super positive. So yeah, I’m just super stoked that the sport is getting more girls in the lineup.

anastasia ashley, surfer, model, surfing, girl, first light surf club, interview, dawn patrol, spotlight
Q. Yeah, I love that too. Um, and then you've taken a step back from competitive surfing in recent years. Has that shift given you a different lens or new perspective on surfing or. I knew a different enjoyment in it Now that you're not competing as much?

Anastasia - Yeah, totally. I mean, I would say I love surfing more now that I don't compete just because I think every session when I was in competition mode, in the competition mindset, every session was, you know, looking at it from how can I, how can I, you know, better my surfing or, you know, how am I going to make this session before my training? Um, which can be fun, but also stressful. And it kind of just it's, it's more fun, definitely being able to be more or less like a free surfer and surf when I want to and where I want to and, and not be so competitive, focused. So definitely, I would say I enjoy surfing more than ever. And also I think having, you know, having a more balanced life too. So like, got that makes you appreciate surfing more, I think.

Q. Throughout the years you’ve built up your personal brand quite a bit. What has that process been like for you?

Anastasia - My approach with everything, when I'm in something, I'm always 100%. So anything with my personal brand and the work that I've done in marketing and different things that I do, I work really hard at it. After I stopped competing, I kind of took all that determination, time, energy, and focus and put it into my own personal brand and social media. I think I'm still learning a lot. Coming from doing something for like 20 years and then starting something new and working towards a new goal and new things is definitely challenging. But, I've always been pretty driven off challenges and goals.

anastasia ashley, surfer, model, surfing, girl, first light surf club, interview, dawn patrol, spotlight
Q. The work you’re currently doing often takes you away from the ocean for periods of time, so when you're not able to surf, what do you do to stay grounded?

Anastasia - A big thing that I do when I'm not surfing from a fitness standpoint is I’m definitely in the gym a lot. I love working out and doing classes. I really enjoy all things health and fitness in general. I need to be active even if I'm not surfing. I also love walking. I love doing long walks and getting my steps in. I’m always trying to be busy no matter what I'm doing.

Q. If you could talk to yourself as a kid or give other young girls who have a similar passion as you did for surfing, what's some advice that you would give them?

Anastasia - I would say definitely work really hard. I think now there is some fluff in the world of social media and you can kind of get by with doing things and not necessarily be an expert in them, but really learning and training and having a skill, whether it be surfing or anything else, is really important. Find something that you love to do and have a passion for what you're doing. So yeah, I definitely would say find what you love to do and work really hard and set goals to get where you want to be.
anastasia ashley, surfer, model, surfing, girl, first light surf club, interview, dawn patrol, spotlight
First Light Surf Club, Anastasia Ashley, Carlsbad, Visit Carlsbad, Surf

Follow along Anastasia Ashley's journey here.

This interview was made possible by Visit Carlsbad.

Photography by Bri Chew and Philip Hernandez.

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