THE QUIET ACHIEVER, THE LIFE AND TIMES OF ZAHLI KELLY.
When you read or watch anything on young surfers taking the QS by storm you see the same names, Caroline Marks, Alyssa Spencer, Kirra Pinkerton, Gabriella Bryan, Molly Picklum to name a few. Those girls rip… Those girls deserve to be mentioned so you will get no argument from us.
But one name seems to slip through the cracks and we mean a lot…. And it is Zahli Kelly.
Zahli missed qualification for the 2020 Womens CT by 2 spots (11th overall). In 2019 her top 5 results looked like this:
- 2nd Mothernest Great Lakes Pro
- 3rd Holmes Civil Developments Pro
- 3rd Caraibos Lacanau Pro
- 3rd Deeply Pro Anglet
- 1st white buffalo HYUGA PRO
So why is Zahli being overlooked? She is a very reserved person, she keeps to herself and doesn’t say much, but when she does it’s very much to the point.
We have known Zahli for a long time, when we first met her she was a little girl tearing the Australian junior competitions apart in a pink crash helmet. The Zahli that we have got to know is kind, really funny, great to travel with and super (and we mean super) competitive.
If you look at the list of many of the girls we’ve mentioned before achievements, Zahli has done them too. And guess what, she got the same results at 14 years of age. Zahli has a crazy air game, her rail game is on point, she charges in big surf, so what is it that doesn’t have the surf commentary world spruiking her name?
We thought we would try and get the salty tongues wagging in Zahli’s favour by introducing everyone to the amazing Zahli that we know.
Hey Zahli, Can you introduce yourself by letting everyone know your name, your age and where you live.
My name is Zahli Kelly, I’m sixteen and I live on a little farm at Pumpenbil.
When we first met, you were a little ripper wearing a pink helmet. What age did you start surfing?
I started surfing when I was eight at the beach breaks around the sunshine coast.
Who inspired you in those younger years for surfing?
My older brother Liam had just started surfing and he wanted someone to go surfing with so I put my hand up and said I’d learn so we could surf together.
Flash forward to 2017, you graduate to surfing in the Australasian pro junior tour and in your first year you win the whole series, how old were you when you won in 2017 and how did you feel winning?
I was thirteen when I won the pro junior series for the first time. It was the best feeling when I finally won at the gold coast that year because it was a tight battle to stay on top of the rankings for most of the events, so to end up on top was mental.
You then went and won the Australasian pro junior tour the next year in 2018. That was the year you won your first ever QS event in France, you then won the next QS event a week later. How did that make you feel and how old were you at the time?
I was fourteen when I won both the QS events in France, and I was so shocked at what I’d achieved that I didn’t really know how to feel or what to do to be honest.
In 2019 you and Alyssa Spencer just missed qualifying for the Women’s CT, how did just missing make you feel and has that changed how you head into the next season?
Alyssa and I had a final in Japan just before the last event of the season, and my winning put me with a close shot at qualifying. But at Port Stephen I missed out on the CT by one heat and if I’m honest that broke me for a while. I’m lucky enough to have really good people and family that helped me get back and ready for when the next events take place.
You have a serious air game, what is your training routine for airs?
The best thing for my airs is when I spend time in the snow because the amount of height that you can get on a snowboard really makes airs in the ocean seem more manageable.
Who inspires your surfing now?
Anyone who I see that is doing something cool and new makes me inspired to try more things and improve.
Outside of surfing what do you love to do?
Well I’m only in grade eleven at school so I don’t have much time to do things beside surfing and schoolwork. But if I can go to the snow a few times each winter then I’m stoked because I love snowboarding.
If you got stuck on a deserted island for the rest of your life and you could take only one book, one movie and one album what would they be?
Ohh that’s a hard one…. I’d have to break the rules a bit and take a box set of all the harry potter movies. My chosen book would be Colorblind by Siera Maley. And the album would be Immunity by Clairo.
So that’s our introduction from us, to you, to Zahli. She’s an amazing surfer, athlete and person. Next time you’re thinking about the next generation of surfing girls, do yourself a favour and remember her name… Zahli
Follow Zahli on Instagram here: