GoPro athlete and professional surfer Lakey Peterson rounded out her 2015 WSL season ranked 6th in the world. So it came as a bit of a surprise to her fans that they didn’t see her out in the lineup at the kickoff to the 2016 WSL season at Snapper Rocks on Australia’s Gold Coast. Most people don’t know the full story behind why Lakey has been out of the water for eight weeks and unable to compete on tour. We sat down with her to understand the full scope of her injury to learn how she’s staying busy and training to get back on the competitive circuit as soon as possible.
On February 17th, Lakey was surfing a hometown beach break on a fairly small day in Santa Barbara, CA. On her last wave in, she turned left on her backhand and backwash exploded out of nowhere. The water compressed her board into her foot, leaving it no place to go. The result was her first major injury: a broken left ankle. Most athletes would have been devastated. But Lakey isn’t like most athletes. Instead she gained immense perspective, took this as an opportunity to be grateful for all that she has in life, and began rehabbing straight away.
“Right after my injury, I focused on prone paddling, just so I could get back in the water. It was great to swim and work on strengthening by upper body, says Lakey. “I’ve been working closely with my PT and my boyfriend, Tom, who is an osteopath – rehabbing with bosu balls, stem machines, lasers and massage. Once my ankle began to heal, I focused on kicking around in the ocean, which really helped with mobility to free up scar tissue.”
Last week, with a healed and stable ankle, Lakey surfed for first time since her injury. Now it’s all about getting the scar tissue out. Her goal is to compete in Fiji at the end of May, which also happens to be her favorite stop on tour. Until then, she’s trying to surf as much as possible, and when she has down time (like now), she stays busy with various philanthropic organizations—which is what brought her to the GoPro HQ earlier this week for a lunch-and-learn session with Michael Stewart, the founder of Sustainable Surf.
“Surfers really do want to conserve and help the earth because our sport involves the water and nature,” Lakey explains about her involvement with the Waste to Waves program that GoPro is partnering with. “It has a direct effect on us. I don’t see many other sports where nature brings competitors and people together from all walks of life.”
Three GoPro offices now have monthly Waste to Waves pickups for Styrofoam that is transported to Marko Foam to create recycled surfboard blanks, which are then shaped into Ecoboards. In 2015, 23,000 eco-boards were made, and W2W hopes to double that number in 2016.
Lakey first learned about Sustainable Surf last summer at a “Deep Blue” dinner party Stewart hosted in San Juan Capistrano and she immediately supported the mission of side-stepping the traditional route of creating blanks with toxins that are not recyclable:
“I got my first Ecoboard right before my injury, so I didn’t get a chance to ride it enough, to really give it a fair assessment. But for the few times I did surf it, I was really impressed with how great it worked and that I could have a recyclable board with performance up to par,” recalls Lakey. “Johanne Defay [Fellow GoPro athlete] actually won the 2015 US Open of Surfing on an Ecoboard.* On tour, we all want to help the earth and when you see the results with the eco-board, people take note.”
Check back on The Inside Line for updates on Lakey’s road to recovery, as she looks forward to competing in the #5 stop on the WSL Tour at the Fiji Women’s Pro May 29-June 30.
* Johanne Defay was riding an ECOBOARD built by Channel Islands Surfboards last year at the the 2015 Vans US Open of Surfing. Her board was shaped from an Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) foam blank, and glassed with a plant-based Epoxy resin from Entropy Resins. This marked the first time that a surfboard carrying the ECOBOARD Project label had been used to win a World Championship Tour (WCT) level contest on the “World Tour,” run by the World Surfing League (WSL).