Candice Appleby is a waterwoman to the bone. After leading her California high school surf team to three national titles, she moved to Hawaii to further her education and chase a surfing career. Things worked out well. The 24-year-old finished third in the longboard division at the 2007 Pipeline Pro, beat out all the boys to claim the open pro standup title at the Duke's OceanFest in 2008 and was the only woman invited to this year's Sunset Pro Stand Up World Tour event–all while earning her degree. Did we mention she won both the Battle of the Paddle, Hawaii and California this year? –Joe Carberry

Photo: Jim Russi

I grew up San Clemente, Calif. and moved to Hawaii when I was 17 in 2003. I graduated from the University of Hawaii in December 2008. I studied tropical plants and soil science but I surf for a living.

Hawaii is my home. I feel like I was meant to be here. The lifestyle is focused around the ocean and there's so many happy people because of it. Hawaii has made me into a complete waterwoman and I embrace every discipline the ocean has to offer.

I discovered standup paddling in 2006. I spent a winter season at Makaha training for the Pipeline Pro. I ended up watching Brian Keaulana, Duane DeSoto and Nolan Martin standup paddle for hours, committing to memory how they used the paddle. I had to try it. Back in Waikiki, hustling, the beach boys would be out before the boss was there. I grabbed one of their big 12-foot Mickey Muñoz soft tops and taught myself. I was out every day at Waikiki when nobody was standup paddling.

I excelled at it pretty fast and did a couple of contests. I won my second contest against the guys. After that Tropical Blends started making my boards. I realized early on I didn't need that much board. I asked them to make me a giant shortboard and used it at the Steinlager Series at Sunset. It was one of the first shortboards out there.

The Duke's OceanFest in 2008 really propelled my career. I won the open pro and the women's in back-to-back finals. Just to be a part of it was an honor. To win it was a dream with guys like Brian Keaulana, Nolan Martin and [Noah] Shimabukuro competing.

For me, it's not about competing with the guys. But just because there isn't a women's division doesn't mean I'm not going to do it. It's an opportunity to reach out to the other girls and help push them.

Standup gives ladies a new sense of confidence because of how it shapes your body. You're more fit, more energized. You feel strength inside and out and walk around with a stronger sense of self. That appeals to all females. And the women that are the faces of the sport right now are doing awesome things. They're raising money for important causes and generally raising the bar.

I want to be a good example for other women getting into standup as a complete package. You can get an education and pursue your dreams of surfing professionally.

This piece originally appeared in the summer issue of SUP magazine.