Whatever criteria you choose, Layne Beachley is one of Australia’s greatest athletes. Having spent two decades breaking down barriers in her chosen sport, she has also committed herself for making it easier for young women to achieve their goals in their chosen fields – provided, of course, they have the will and the work ethic.
Born in 1972 and given up for adoption by her 17-year-old mother, Layne lost her adoptive mother when she was just six. She credits her adoptive father, Neil, and women including ‘Nana’ Joan Tate, with filling the void. At the age of seven, upon discovering she had been adopted, Layne decided she was going to prove her worth by being the best in the world at something – and it wasn't long before that something became surfing.
As a 16 year old, Layne made her debut on the ASP Women’s World Tour and, by the time she was 20, she was ranked number 6 in the world. At this point in her career, Layne embarked upon a physical training regime that would set her apart from every other woman pro of the last two decades.
Winning her first event in 1993, Layne’s fierce commitment to success came at a price. In 1993 and 1996, she faced the mental, physical and emotional challenges of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, also leading to depression. The mental toughness required to overcome such adversity became the foundation for achieving the goal she set herself at the age of seven – becoming a world champion.
In 1998, Layne’s determination and focus paid off and she achieved the first of 6 consecutive world titles. A rare feat in any sport, Layne’s domination of women’s surfing has earned her a place in sporting history, having won an unprecedented seventh world title.
Layne’s competitive drive is now present both in and out of the water. Layne is a budding entrepreneur; willing to learn and dedicated to success. In 2006, Layne staged the richest event in women’s surfing history; the Havaianas Beachley Classic at Manly Beach, Sydney. A huge success, the event ran for 7 years with support from the Commonwealth Bank.
Her unswerving commitment to the betterment of women’s surfing has also been felt by the ASP, pro surfing’s governing body. As the lone female board member for several years, Layne was steadfastly committed to ensuring that women enjoyed the same opportunities and conditions in the sport as the men. In addition to her surfing and business commitments, Layne created the Aim for the Stars Foundation in 2003 to support and help young women across Australia realize their dreams in fields as diverse as academia, sport, the arts and culture.