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by Jesse Starling

This article is dedicated to the real brains behind the huge operations of competitive surfing, all of our mums. Let’s be real, our mums have always been the ones to push us to get organised and get stuff done. Well atleast i know that this is the case in regards to my mum. So we decided hey, let’s shine a spotlight on the ladies out there who will forever push us to achieve our goals, hold us when we have setbacks and be one of the few people there to watch the whole journey. 

So we reached out to 4 surfing mums who have been in the game for quite some time. These ladies include Sue Kelly (SK) (Zahli Kelly’s mum), Kerry Lock (KL) (Alyssa Locks Mum), Mary Spencer (MSP) (Alyssa Spencers mum) and of course our mum Megan Starling (MS). They gave us the inside scoop into the life of a surfing mum by answering the following questions, so let’s dive right in and get to know these 4 amazing ladies. 

Megan, Jesse and Tru Starling

How long has your child been competing and how many comps would you say you’ve taken your child to? 

SK – “Zahli started competing when her brothers started, she would have been 9 or 10. From then until now it’s probably been about 100 contests progressing from the little Wahu & Ripcurls to States, Aussies, Pro Juniors, World Juniors & now QS events”. 

KL – “Competing since 6 years old. My guess would be easily over a hundred competitions in 14 years!”

MS – “Tru and Jesse have been surfing for about 7 years and competing for 6. I’m not sure I could tell you how many comps I have been to. Let’s just say I’ve spent A LOT of hours on multiple beaches around the globe”. 

MSP – “ Alyssa has been competing in surf comps since she was 8 years old. Between Alyssa and Ty (Alyssa’s younger brother) I don’t think I could possibly count how many surf contests I have been to!  But I can say that I have enjoyed them all, win or lose!”

Alyssa and Kerry Lock

What is it like watching your child in heats, do you get nervous? 

SK – “I get very nervous if I’m with other people when Zahli surfs so I normally try and sit by myself during her heats and then I can try and just enjoy it”. 

KL – “When she was really little I used to get nervous, but by the age of 12 the nerves stopped and I learnt to just enjoy watching her learn and grow from her surfing.  No point stressing because there’s always another heat. Nowadays the hardest part is when I don’t travel to the events and have to watch scores on my phone wondering what’s going on. I hit refresh constantly! Sometimes there’s a support person with her so they will often send me text updates which is priceless”. 

MS – “Oh hahaha yes definitely! Not because I’m all about the win but because I want them to come in from their heats feeling like they have done the best they can do win, lose or draw. The worst is when they are in a heat together as that can make for a quiet car ride home”. 

MSP – “ I can say that I get the “butterflies” every contest, whether it is a fun event or a Challenger Series to World Junior Comp.  Like probably most every parent that has a child in any kind of sport or activity the most you want for them is to have a great time and put their best effort in”.  

Sue and Zahli Kelly

What has been your favourite surf competition location that you have travelled to thus far? 

SK – “Zah and I have travelled overseas a lot during the last 2 years but the place we love the most is France. The beaches just remind us of the Aussie coastline, and the people are really chilled and welcoming. We don’t speak French but most of the French people speak some English so communicating is easy”.

KL – “My favourite comps have  always been the Australian ones because our beaches are so beautiful and the events are always in great areas where accessibility to amenities and cafes are easy. The overseas destinations are always beautiful too but sometimes remote, with very few eating options so it pays to plan ahead with water supplies and snacks”. 

MS – “That’s a tough one as I love to travel so have loved them all but have to say you can’t go past a comp close to home. It’s all the best bits about competition life while sleeping in your own bed”.

MSP – “This is a tough one!  Every spot I visit there is beauty and uniqueness.  I don’t think I can have a favorite spot, but I think there are special qualities in each location that make it special and enjoyable.  But I can say that Australia feels home away from home because the hospitality and love so many families have given us”. 

Alyssa and Mary Spencer

Have you made friends with any other surfing mums or dads and if so any in particular that you love? 

SK – “This is a hard question to answer because you get to know so many parents over the years. I have stayed really good friends with families from the grom Comp days, but then once you start the QS you tend to see the same parents travelling to all the contests. We have also had quite a few international surfers and their parents stay at our place in Casuarina over the years. There are so many lovely parents that I have been lucky enough to get to know over the years, but the one person that has been there from I think Zahlis first contest through to QS events has been Deb Callaghan”.

KL – “When you travel amongst the surf circulate as long as we have there’s not many parents you haven’t met. Some you may only get to see long enough for a 10 minute chat, and some you end up travelling overseas with. Taking the time to make those connections with others I feel is always important.  I wouldn’t leave an event without catching up with Lisa Robinson, Rachele Bryan, Maureen Sibley, Justine Buckpitt, Nikki Simons, and Meg and Dan Starling … just to name a few!” 

MS – “Yes absolutely! Some of my closest friends I have met on the beach while our kids compete. Just like my girls I have friends around the globe thanks to this amazing sport. Favourites? Well let’s just say some I’ve laughed with, some I’ve cried with and some I’ve had one too many wines with but each of them are special to me”.

MSP – “I think making friendships and relationships on our travels has absolutely been one of the highlights. The memories we share with friends together have been the best. We have made friends in almost all locations we visit and they welcome us each time when we return as though no time has passed. Having those friendships is an important key when traveling because they become like your family. I look forward to seeing everyone again once we start traveling again. I miss my friends around the world!

Megan and Tru Starling

Do you love being a surfing mum and if so what is your favourite part about it? 

SK – “Do I love being a surfing Mum? Well I probably would love it more if I could surf but then who would film haha. There are so many places that I would never have travelled to if it wasn’t for Zahlis surfing, and the time will come when she won’t need me to travel with her (if travel even starts again). So yes I do love being a surfing Mum but I also enjoy the at home time”.

KL – “Supporting your child in any sport can be hard. As parents we all want them to do well but their emotional well-being always comes first.  Having been there in the moment to hug them in their triumphs, and hold them a little tighter after their disappointments and reassuring them that everything is “okay” is what I will always cherish.  I think being on hand to do that’s by far the best part about being a surf mum :)”

MS – “To be honest I just love being a mum. My girls are my greatest achievement and getting to travel the world with them and watch them grow with each adventure is just an added bonus xx”. 

MSP – “I am so blessed that both my children have fallen in love with the ocean. I grew up living at the beach and the ocean has always been the center of my life so I feel absolutely lucky. It takes hard work, focus, and passion to do what you girls do! I love every minute of it! My favorite part is to be at the beach and watch my daughter do what she loves to do with a smile and determination to be the best she can be!”

As you can tell after reading that, these incredible ladies are the real champions. So to all the surfing mums across the world, we love you and are so incredibly grateful for you! To all the mums who have held us a little tighter when we have lost or triumphed when our own mum couldn’t be there we say thank you! I mean how good are mums. 



  • And then there was MURMUR MAGAZINE!!!
    I love your featuring the Mum’s!
    The articles? Stellar!
    MSP is my fav! I’m AlyssaMaeUSA’s NanaMae
    Surf mum’s are their guides and Protector’s
    Godspeed for such a time as this!!!🥰😘

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