Lucy Matautia-Jarrard wants to inspire the next generation of American Samoan surfers. Her ultimate dream is to represent the South Pacific nation at the Olympics. Whether she achieves it or not, her underdog journey to reach the top ranks of female surfers will surely leave an indelible mark on young girls around the world.

Surfing is the sport of ancient Polynesia, but very few Samoans surf, notes Lucy. “I want the world to know that we are ocean people, not just football and rugby players,” she says. “I want kids to see Samoans competing at the top level of surfing so they know, we can do this, too.” Although she was born and raised in Oceanside, California, her grandparents on her mother’s side hail from Samoa and her father, who is French, is a passionate surfer.

Oceanside is home to a large community of Samoans, but very few of them taught their kids to surf, says her dad, Lionel Jarrard. “I followed the lead of other families and started the girls in softball, and they said they’d rather come surf with me,” he says. “I turned the Suburban around immediately and headed to the beach. I’d never been happier.” Nearly every weekend was spent at the beach together.

Lionel never intended to raise a family of surf prodigies. His dream was to share the sport he loved with his five kids so they could all ride waves together. All of the Jarrard kids took to the ocean. Growing up, Lucy’s surf role models were her two oldest sisters Eva, 26, who was a California state champ longboarder, and Juju, 24. When Lucy was just three years old — too young to paddle — she’d lie on a board, hold on to one of her sisters’ surfboard leashes, and was towed out to the lineup and pushed into 5' waves. But it was Lucy, now 22, and her two younger siblings, Sive, 21, and Jonah, 18, who got serious about the sport of kings. All three of them compete on the American Samoa Surf Team.

Recognizing the innate talent of their children, Lionel and his wife decided to relocate the family to the west side of Oahu in 2017 so they could focus more on training for competition. The Jarrards quickly became known as the 'Samoan surf family'. “It was refreshing to be around kids who were Polynesian,” says Lucy. “In California I always felt like an outsider in the water. I didn’t have sponsors or coaches and it sometimes made me feel like I didn’t deserve to be out there competing. All of this has made me want to play a role in making surfing more inclusive.”

Honing Her Competitive Edge

When you grow up as one of five siblings, everything becomes a competition. And in the Jarrard household, Lucy likes to come out on top. When her two oldest sisters started riding their bikes without training wheels, a three-year-old Lucy insisted she ditch hers too. And when the girls washed their faces at night, Lucy brags that she scrubbed her skin the cleanest, teases Lionel.

But it’s Jonah, her younger brother, who has helped her go from good to great in the last few years, encouraging her to work on breath holds and swim laps for conditioning. “I push her like she’s my brother,” he says. “And she pushes me back just as hard.”

Lionel has managed to play the role of both father and coach without pressuring his kids to perform. A little over a year ago, he tapped surf guru Doug Silva, who coaches greats like Kai Lenny and Seth Moniz, to work with Jonah and Lucy. “I sometimes have to coach the parents,” jokes Silva, but the Jarrards have done a great job of providing pure love and supporting Lucy in every way — mentally, emotionally, financiallywithout pressure.”

As a grom, Lucy was a regular fixture at surf competitions, but she took a break in her late teens. After a nearly three-year hiatus from comps, she’s quietly been making a comeback starting with her performance at the 2021 International Surfing Association World Surfing Games in El Salvador. “Everything just clicked for her at that competition,” says Jonah. “I think for all of us it was the event that made us realize we could compete on the international level.”

Last April, at the 2023 ISA World Surfing Games, Sive placed 5th in the longboard competition. And this February, Lucy turned heads by twice beating world ranked No. 2 Caity Simmers in her earlier heats. “I used to get nervous and frustrated at contests, but I’ve gotten more confident in my surfing and I’m enjoying the learning process of it all,” says Lucy. “I’m finally able to relax and just go out there and surf.”

Jonah says he’s noticed the mindset shift. “She has this amazing ability to tune everyone out and go perform,” he says. “I used to think she wasn’t listening to me, but she just internalizes it and stays hyper focused.”

Power and Grace

Lucy loves riding punchy, 4-6' (Hawaiian) point breaks. “I feel like I can make aggressive turns and be more dynamic in those conditions,” she says. Silva describes her style as a mashup of Hawaiian’s Bettylou Sakura Johnson, Gabriela Bryan and Costa Rican Brisa Hennessy. “Her superpower is being able to access and balance both femininity and masculinity in her surfing,” he says. “She is very strong physically but can also be delicate and agile.”

Lionel credits Lucy’s Samoan heritage for her surreptitious strength. At 5’3” she looks like she weighs no more than 120 pounds. When Lucy was surfing for Town & Country, shaper Glenn Pang was crafting two-inch thick boards for her. “I kept telling him she needs a thicker board and we finally bet $100 on how much she weighed,” recalls Lionel. “She has Samoan genetics so her power is in her legs even though she barely has 5 percent body fat. Sure enough, the scale put her just over 150 pounds.

Lucy supplements her water training with boxing, which she feels has improved her reflexes and agility and has helped her stay calm in intense situations in the ocean. She’s also embraced a meditation practice, and after years of teasing her dad about his visualization practices, both she and Jonah have started to use visualization techniques ahead of their competition heats. “It’s helped a lot,” she admits. “I feel a lot calmer and more prepared going into unpredictable situations.”

The Family That Surfs Together Stays Together

Lucy has a deep love and pride for her Samoan heritage. It’s shaped her identity and values. “In Samoan culture, family is everything,” she says. “They say it takes a village to raise a family and our family is like our own village. We do everything together. I wouldn’t be who I am without my family.”

Most days she is in the ocean surfing with her father, Sive, and Jonah. She recently got her Associates of Art degree from junior college and substitute teaches two to three days a week while also juggling six classes a semester at college. “We traveled to Puerto Rico during midterms and I had a bunch of papers to write so it was a lot to juggle,” she says. “But my mom and dad have helped me learn the importance of time management and how to prioritize things.”

Every night the Jarrards sit down together to eat dinner as a family. Lucy’s mom often cooks Samoan dishes (Lucy's favorite is a dessert called cocoa rice which is a riff on chocolate rice pudding). Lionel uses the first few minutes to recap what Sive, Lucy, and Jonah need to be be working on in the water. Their mother is also a water woman, but she prefers to paddle outrigger canoes instead of surf. She limits the surf talk at dinner time. “She’s always trying to shift the conversation to how our day went and we’re always like, it was great because we surfed,” jokes Jonah.

Having such a supportive family has groomed Lucy to be a great surfer, but also a true role model as an athlete. She is conscientious, thankful, hardworking, and has finally found her confidence. “I see other people doing good and I know this contributes to their success. I also know my time will come,” she says. “I am not concerned about getting sponsors or growing my followers. Whether I win or lose, I just need to trust God's timing and remember why my dad taught us to surf. It’s about having fun, learning, and teaching others about this sport that has given me so much.” 


Get to Know Lucy Jarrard

Favorite Reads

Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki

Values Factor by John F. Demartini

No is a Beautiful Word by Kevin G. Harney


Favorite Tunes

“Come In by The Green”

“Rock & Come In” by Peter Morgan and Fiji

“Get Away” by Katchafire


Favorite Local Waves


Gas Chambers