Whitley Stewart was on a tear in the contest scene throughout all of 2023! With her solid tech riding and super stylish flow, it’s no surprise that she ended up on the podium in every contest she entered. Not only that, she took top honors at every event except one. Congrats Whitley! 2023 was awesome and we’re stoked to see what’s up your sleeve for 2024! We caught up with Whitley to see how she felt about this season and safe to say, she was pretty stoked. Check it out below!
PHASE 5: Whitley! You were on fire all of the 2023 season. Are you stoked with how you did or what?!
Whitley: I am so happy with how the season went this year. It was definitely one of my best seasons. Being able to sweep Worlds, Nationals, and Masters was a goal of mine going into this year, and accomplishing that felt amazing and that my hard work paid off!
PHASE 5: Which contest was your favorite?
Whitley: I think my favorite contest this year was the West Coast Open in California. It was actually the only contest that I did not win this season, but it was still my favorite. It was my birthday and several of the other riders and I went out on the boat after the comp and had the best time surfing together and riding doubles. It was definitely the best sunset surf session ever!
PHASE 5: Which victory meant the most to you this year?
Whitley: I definitely think that winning Worlds again was the victory that meant the most to me. Being able to defend my title felt amazing and I was extremely proud of myself.
PHASE 5: What’s going through your head while you’re on the dock waiting for your turn to ride?
Whitley: To be completely honest, I have struggled for years with extremely bad nerves and anxiety leading up to my runs. I would start overthinking and getting in my head…but, this was the first year that I didn’t really struggle with that and I was able to remind myself that this is fun and how blessed I am to be able to compete with all of my friends. My mindset has definitely switched this year and I truly think that it showed in my riding.
PHASE 5: What are your plans for the upcoming 2024 season?
Whitley: I haven’t really given too much thought about my plans for the 2024 season yet, but my goal is to win Worlds, Nationals, and Masters again. I would love to have an undefeated season.
PHASE 5: You started college this year, right? Will that affect your surfing schedule?
Whitley: Yes! I am now at the University of Georgia and it has been the best decision that I have ever made. For so long, my life was only surfing and now being able to have a life outside of that is so fun. Being able to just be a normal college student has been much needed and has helped with the pressure that I put on myself to always perform my best.
PHASE 5: Were there any tricks that you were holding back at all? Or maybe saving for next season?
Whitley: I didn’t throw any 5 shuvs at any competitions this year, so that is a trick that I plan on bringing out for next season!
PHASE 5: What’s some advice you could give to the young girls that are coming up and wanting to get into the contest scene?
Whitley: Do not put so much pressure on yourself!! This is a lesson that has taken me my whole wake surfing career to figure out. It’s much easier said than done, but try and switch your thoughts from “I have to win” and “I have to land x,y,z” to “I am prepared, I have trained for this, and this is fun."
PHASE 5: Is there anything you’d change about how the contests are run or are you overall happy with them?
Whitley: Overall, I am happy with how the contests are run. I know that this past season, a lot of change was going on so I am super excited to see how next season goes and how the contests will be run.
PHASE 5: Thanks again for chatting with us, Whitley! And again, congrats on such a killer 2023 season! Is there anything else you’d like to say or anyone you’d like to thank?
Whitley: Thank you so much! I always want to thank P5 for having the best boards on the market and I’d also like to thank Centurion Boats for the best wave and for always putting on such amazing competitions! The Boat Shop at Lake Lanier and Blakes Seed Based Bars for providing me with some amazing, allergy friendly bars for some pre-surf fuel.
- World Championship - 1st Place
- National Championship - 1st Place
- Masters Championship - 1st Place
- Appalachian Open - 1st place
- Wild West Shootout - 1st Place
- West Coast Open - 2nd Place
- Mid Atlantic Open - 1st Place