Killer Kiwi: Airini Mason
Name three pro surfers from New Zealand. Having trouble? Don’t worry—you’re not a bad surfing fan, it’s just that the catchphrase “Kiwi contingency” hasn’t exactly caught on yet. But don’t take the lack of exposure as a sign of their abilities.
New Zealand surfers have no trouble keeping up with the rest of the world and Airini Mason makes a solid case for that point. The twenty-year-old is undoubtedly one of the best female surfers in the world, and she’s got the contest results to back that claim, including recently taking the 2010 ASP Australasian Pro Junior Series title and third place at the Oakley ASP World Pro Junior last October.
She’s got the results, the talent, and the drive. But she’s lacking one thing: a major sponsor. Without that, following the tour becomes nearly impossible. “Next year, I’m not going to be competing because I haven’t really got any financial backing,” she explains. “So I’m just going to be doing the freesurfing thing and more photo shoots—that kind of stuff with local photographers around New Zealand.”
Smooth, flowing, mature. These are all words that ASP world tour competitor and fellow Kiwi surfer Paige Hareb uses to describe Airini’s surfing. “I know she’ll make the world tour,” continues Paige. “She has the determination, and I know for a fact that’s been her dream since we were twelve years old.”
However, Airini has shifted her attention toward the pursuit of a bachelor’s degree in environmental sciences and taking photo trips, so don’t be surprised if you see her popping up on the contest circuit again. Her tight, in-the-pocket approach to riding waves of consequence, combined with an exceptional jurisdiction over her board’s tail, make her the complete package.
It’s unfortunate story—for now. But don’t feel to bad for Airini; she lives in one of the most beautiful places in the world with plenty of surf. And if a sponsor does come knocking, you can bet Airini will make the tour in a heartbeat.— Darlene Conolly