Written by: Emily Bates
Meet model, Katherine Carter, a NorCal surfer girl who seemingly lives the dream life traveling the world to surf and letting photographers document the journey. Kat has turned her passion into a career, not always an easy feat to achieve. The Surf Channel wanted details about her journey towards a successful modeling career. Equipped with a degree in Fine Arts from UC Santa Cruz, the number one school on the “Top 10 Universities for Surfers” list, this surfing model has the whole package. Oh, and we’re jealous she gets to surf Cloudbreak. Get to know more about Kat Carter in this exclusive interview.
Birthdate: August 20th
Quiver: My go-to boards lately have been a 5’10″ Fred Rubble Al Merrick, 5’0″ Ocean Racer by Chris Christenson, and my 9’6″ Christenson log for small days. I love trying alternative shapes like the Ocean Racer, and messing around on old single fins.
Local Break: Oceanside Harbor, CA
Favorite Wave: Cloudbreak, Fiji
When did you start surfing?
Carter: I learned mostly just from watching the guys at my home break, and I stood up in the white water at summer camp when I was a grom. I played soccer competitively until I was 18 and then became obsessed with surfing. Growing up in Northern California, skateboarding and snowboarding has always been a big part of my life, so it was only natural to take it to the beach.
Favorite surfers on the ASP WCT?
Carter: Stephanie Gilmore is my all-time favorite and is one of the sweetest humans I have ever met. Girls like Carissa Moore, Sally Fitzgibbons, and Malia Manuel are really impressive and are giving women’s surfing a whole new twist with their jaw-dropping aerials and outstanding talent. It’s also been great to watch Gabriel Medina, Parko, Mick Fanning, Taj Burrow, and Kelly pull out all the stops to try and take each other out. The Gaduaskas brothers are also a favorite, not only for their amazing talent but because they are really great guys out of the water, too. However, the real guys to watch are Greg and Rusty Long who are riding some of the biggest waves in the world and leading the Big Wave World Tour into a new era.
Best surf trips?
Carter: This last year was Kandui Island in the Mentawais, Western Australia, Mexico, and Kauai… trying to top that next year and get down to Peru. I think the best waves I’ve ever gotten on a trip had to be at Cloudbreak on Tavarua Island in Fiji… pure perfection. Then there’s always good old California for the occasional road trip to Rincon which I look forward to every winter.
Longboarding or shortboarding?
Carter: I think I lean towards short boarding because of the speed and maneuverability you have, but there is nothing in the world that feels better than a perfect noseride to the sand at Malibu. I feel like each has it’s time and place and I enjoy mixing it up a bit, keeps you on your toes.
Kat surfing Cabo in the warm waters of Mexico. Photo: Chris Bezamat
When did you start modeling?
Carter: It wasn’t until after I graduated from UCSC with a degree in Fine Arts that I even thought about getting into modeling. I had done a couple things here and there for local companies and my mom grew up modeling in LA so I felt like the potential was there to explore some opportunities. Once I moved south and got an agent, things just kind of took off.
Carter: I started mostly working in the surf industry doing shoots for companies like Quiksilver, DC and Hurley. I’m super active so I end up working with a lot of companies like Target, Prana, and Athleta that promote a real natural look. I then progressed into commercial acting and thanks to the “Blue Crush phenomena,” women’s surfing has really pushed into mainstream advertising, so it was really good timing for me to hit the scene… Traveling, of course, is my favorite part about modeling. And you get to meet the most amazing and creative people on each job. Some of my closest friends are people I’ve met on shoots.
Best photo shoot?
Carter: I shot a Coppertone Sport commercial on location in Costa Rica. I got to drive around in a rad old land cruiser and surf amazing waves with my super blonde “surfer boyfriend” while the photographer filmed from a jet ski. I feel super fortunate to call that work.
What do you love about surfing?
Carter: Surfing is what keeps me sane! I feel more comfortable in the water than on land sometimes. It really gives you the space and time to be present in your body and just slow down from the bustling pace of life we live these days. I also love the way surfing brings people together from all over the world, each with love and respect for the ocean and a common vision to score the best waves!
Progression of female surfing?
Carter: Women’s surfing has really gained momentum these past couple years, and it’s about time. Ten years ago, it was just a small crew of girls like Rochelle Ballard and Lisa Anderson that got together for boat trips and filmed movies, like Peaches and Blue Crush (the original). Girls were still pretty scarce in the lineup… Now there are girls everywhere in their super cute, booty-cut spring suits infiltrating lineups around the world. And not only do they surf better than some of the guys out there, they do it with style and grace. Women’s surfing has broken through a major barrier in my opinion and girls everywhere are showing dudes in the water how it’s done.
You take annual winter trips to Oahu. Describe the scene on the North Shore.
Carter: It’s pretty straight forward. You surf well, you get attention and hopefully respect. When Pipe is going off, it’s one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen on this planet and I recommend seeing it in person. It’s pretty crazy over there during the winter season and people come from all over the world in search of perfect waves on the North Shore. It’s dog-eat-dog in the water and you definitely need to make sure you pay your dues before you find a place in the lineup. I love going every year and have a lot of friends who now call it home, so when I visit it’s kind of like a home away from home.
Ultimate dream job?
Carter: I love designing things and I’m fascinated with being efficient, so I’ve always imagined myself product testing gear in the outback or in chest deep powder in BC; but ultimately, the best job would be to travel to surf, make art and help others in need. Not sure what that’s called yet, but I’m doing my best to make it my reality by following my passions and doing what I love.