The greatest female professional surfer in the history of the sport, Layne Beachley won the World Championship a record seven times. Known as ‘The Beast’ because of her aggressive style, she broke down barriers and set the pace for women in a previously male dominated sport.
Born in Sydney, she enjoyed playing many competitive sports, but at 16, she set her sights on surfing success, bypassing the amateur contest structure and entering the World Surfing Tour as a professional. By the age of 20, she was ranked No 6 in the world.
One of the reasons for her success was a strict training regime that she stuck with for almost two decades. However there was a price to pay for such total commitment. In 1993 and 1996 Layne faced the debilitating Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, a mental, physical and emotional illness which she had to overcome. She fought against depression but managed to keep focused on her ultimate goal - to be world champion.
Layne’s inner strength gave her the perfect foundation for big wave surfing and in 1998 her determination paid off as she won the first of six consecutive world surfing titles, a feat which rewrote the record books for a male or female surfer. In 2004, she was given a wild card entry into the Energy Australia Open held at Newcastle, one of the rare occasions a woman has competed in a men's surfing event. In the same year, she also received the Laureus World Alternative Sportsperson of the Year Award.
Although troubled by a serious neck injury which made her consider retirement, Layne won her seventh and final world title in December 2006, at the age of 34, in Hawaii. She said: “It's surreal, absolutely surreal. It's been such a journey. It’s one of the most amazing experiences I've ever had. This is probably one of the most rewarding and satisfying world titles I've ever won.”