Zahli Kelly

VIDEO: Zahli Kelly Does More Air-Revs In One Minute Than Most Boys


Edit by Ethan Kelly
Soundtrack ‘I Wanna Fight’ by The Ruminaters 

There is more to 14-year-old Zahli Kelly from New South Wales than this 60 seconds of radical air surfing. She wants to be a physicist, but she’s also been dominating her local and regional comps for the last five years. The Casuarina prodigal child has just finished her first year surfing the WSL Qualifying Series that finished up at the inaugural Port Stephens Toyota NSW Women’s Pro on the weekend. That was her third QS 6000 event and fifth QS 1000 event for 2017 and she’s stacked up the results to finish in 64th position in the world. Still a junior, she’s also at the top of the Australian/Oceana Junior leaderboard with two event wins (Subway Pro Junior Avoca & NIB Pro Junior) and three third places. 

This is just the start of her monumental journey as a surfer, we’re dead sure of that.

Just two weeks ago Zahli made her way down to the Phillip Island Pro, the first Australian QS event to present equal prize money for both the men and women. It was a wild weekend of waves and tough competition. Zahli finished with a second after being defeated by 16-year-old Piper Harrison in the final, but her surfing was on point the whole event. Liam Robertson from Surfing Victoria said, “You could see from round one the strength in both Zahli and Piper’s surfing world take them a long way through this event.”

Earlier this year, Zahli decided last minute that she’d jump on her coach Woody’s holiday to Lakey Peak in Indonesia. It is a surfer’s haven with the most perfect a-frame waves, warm water and loads of breaks and options based on conditions. This is where the magic happened. “We surfed all day everyday…” said Zahli. “It was perfect conditions for me to train, between three and six feet. I definitely landed more airs than I normally do and could feel myself progressing each day. When I got home, I could feel a pretty big improvement in my confidence and execution of them. The trip helped all aspects of my surfing so much.”

Zahli has been homeschooled since grade three, but talking to her you’d think she was in her final year of school. She’s talks with a grounding, direction and intelligence far beyond her years. She loves studying and gets stuck into her school work as much as she can. “I love physics, it’s my favourite and I’d love to be a physicist when I’m older. Basically, just because it helps so much in the understanding, application and comparison of movement, especially in surfing and snow sports for me. I can understand my aerial surfing and how it works because of the biomechanics of it.”

When she’s not wrapped up in the science of sport and movement she’s surfing or training at the Surfing Australia High-Performance Centre just down the road from her house. It’s home to some of the world’s leading PDH students specialising in sport and athlete science and training.

In just a couple of weeks she’ll jump on a Dreamliner plane to Hawaii with coach Woody and ex-WCT surfer Adam Melling to take on some serious waves and absorb the magic that is Hawaii in winter. While she’s there she’s hoping for a mid-sized swell so she can try her luck out at Waimea Bay but mostly she’s looking forward to surfing Sunset Beach. “I’ve surfed (Sunset) before. I think it was about 12 feet last year when I was there. It’s such a fun wave and I feel pretty confident out there now.”

Oh, by the way, did we mention she’s only 14.

Zahli Kelly. Remember this name, you’re bound to see it again soon. Meanwhile, enjoy her epic clip.

At Lakey Peak/In this clip, Zahli is riding:
5’7.5 x 22 Litre Emery Black Angel 2 with Epoxy stringer &
5’8 x 22 Litre Emery Black Angel 2 with Emery’s new technology which Zahli mentions, every single part of the board is recycled; the resins, the foam, fin plugs and leggy plug. – The only things not eco is the fins and leggy.

Zahli is proudly supported by: Billabong Australia, Emery Surfboards, Komunity Project, Von Zipper, Surf Mud

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