Sister Is Stoked
And why wouldn’t Kelia ‘Sister’ Moniz be stoked? At just 21, the two-time defending world longboard champion travels the world surfing the best waves, and models for Roxy
Kelia “Sister” Moniz, who celebrated her 21st birthday earlier this month, has a lot to be stoked about these days. The professional longboarder surfed her way to a second consecutive world championship title, gets paid to catch waves and travel the world, and is sponsored by one of the biggest companies in women’s surfing – Roxy. Yep, that’s she in those larger-than-life posters in Quiksilver and Roxy stores everywhere.
Known by family, friends and the surfing world as “Sister,” Moniz grew up in Kuliouou on East Oahu with four brothers – 22-year-old Micah, 19-year-old Isaiah, 17-year-old Joshua and 16-year-old Seth – who are not only close in age but also very close as a family.
“I’m much more protective of my brothers than they are of me,” she says. “They’re protective, but I don’t think they’re as protective as people would expect them to be. If anything, it’s more of a, ‘when you bring a guy home he’s not going to have it easy.’ But they’re not like threatening, where I’m very threatening.”
The kids also were all home-schooled by their mom, and spent much of their childhood at the beach.
And they all share an inherited talent for surfing from their dad, big-wave surf legend Tony Moniz.
“We were home-schooled not because of surfing, but because my mom wanted to keep us closer,” explains Moniz. “Then, when I was in fourth grade, my dad started his surf school business and my mom had to help him, so we were doing school at the beach every day.
“So, in the beginning it wasn’t about making a career of it, it was more about us loving being in the ocean and being together, and eventually over time we started doing contests.”
At 12 years old, Moniz entered her first professional event and quickly became the up-and-coming girl grom to watch. She also “graduated” from her homebreak of Queen’s at Waikiki Beach to Kewalo’s, where the waves break faster and over shallow reef.
Then, just one year later came the biggest break of her life – a contract with Roxy.
“I always admired the Roxy brand and the lifestyle, and I wanted to be a Roxy girl so badly,” recalls Moniz. “I would beg my dad to send in a resume and photos of me, but he would tell me, ‘No, I’m not gonna do that. If it’s meant to be, it’s gonna happen and it’s gonna come to you when the time is right.’ Then, when I was 13, I did well in an event, and Roxy approached me and I’ve been sponsored by them ever since.
“I feel really blessed to have pretty much one of the most insane jobs in the world. I get to travel with my best friends. I get to surf the most incredible waves. And I only compete once a year.”
Moniz was traveling so much that two years ago, she decided to move to L.A., where she lives with her best friend, Brazilian pro surfer Bruna Schmitz, at a house near Hermosa Beach. Before, they would stay at their team manager’s place at neighboring Manhattan Beach, and spent so much time there that it just made sense to get their own place.
Moniz also is sponsored by GoPro and Hawaiian Island Creations (for surfboards), and spends much of her time doing photo shoots. She lists her favorite surf spot as Restaurants in Fiji, and is known for her sassy “kicker” maneuver where she walks to the nose of the board and with her left foot hanging over the nose, she kicks up her right foot behind her and twists her hips at the same time.
And while dad and brothers are great at rushing the big waves, “Sister” prefers “the best wave,” which she describes as anything from about waist to head high, clean conditions, long and, of course, in warm water.
She rides a 9-foot high-performance longboard shaped by Eric Arakawa, and is goofy footed.
Her mom, Tammy, serves as “momager” while continuing to run Faith Surf School (they have four stands in Waikiki), and still home-schooling the youngest of the kids. Tony still gives surf lessons, and recently has been traveling more with the boys to their contests. He’s currently in Australia with Josh.
“In the beginning, surfing was just for fun,” says Moniz. “My mom and dad never pushed me to do it. If anything, my brothers (who are all short-boarders) pushed me to improve. They did a lot to help me progress in my surfing. It was something we wanted to do. And when we started competing, my dad was our coach.”
Growing up with four brothers, it’s no surprise that “Sister” often became “one of the boys.” She admits to having more guy friends than girl friends, is tough and not sensitive, loves food, loves dirt biking, is OK with getting dirty and can pretty much always keep up with the boys.
Her day-to-day wardrobe usually consists of black pants or jeans, a T-shirt and Converse shoes.
But this self-proclaimed tomboy also possesses a few feminine qualities. For one, she’s “obsessed” with cosmetics. She even wears mascara to the beach.
“My favorite is a warm water-removable mascara from Clinique,” she says. “I use it every single day. And most times when I’m in the ocean, unless I’m in really warm water in Hawaii, it won’t come off because the water is too cold.
“I think my obsession with makeup started from doing photo shoots with Roxy. I just really loved it. It’s fun being a girl and getting all dolled up.”
At the beach, she also likes to use Vertra sunscreen, and a leave-in hair conditioner called It’s a 10.
Moniz, who is of Japanese, Hawaiian, Portuguese, Chinese and Irish heritage, says family, friends and warm water are what she misses the most about Hawaii, and she usually comes home at least every two months.
When she’s not in the water, Moniz enjoys shopping, photography and hanging out with friends.
She also recently discovered a passion for snowboarding, which she says is very different from surfing and a new challenge for her. And from a young age, she’s been a strong believer in her Christian faith, and even found a Bible study group in L.A. that she meets with once a week.
At the Swatch Girls Pro in China last November, Moniz defended her ASP Women’s World Longboard Championship title by beating out Chelsea Williams in the final heat.
“It was our third year back in China, and the final was me and Chelsea every year – she won the first year, I won the second year, and this time it was a battle – this was going to be the breaking point,” she recalls. “I had a pretty rough go, I wasn’t surfing that well, but in the final I just gave it my all and I was really happy with how it turned out.”
As for her longboarding career, Moniz says she hopes to win a few more titles and wants to help grow the sport for women. She also is looking into creating a show about the surfing lifestyle.
“I just enjoy surfing and want to keep surfing forever,” she says. “I think women’s longboarding deserves a lot more attention than we have. Not only is the surfing so beautiful to watch, but a lot of the girls who are doing the surfing are gorgeous and such good people.”
At just 21, Moniz is already living her dream. And now that she’s of age, we can finally toast to her success.
BTW: she likes white wine.