Long before Connie Arias was swabbing the decks as part of the Below Deck crew this season, she was ruling the waves as a pro surfer. Unsurprisingly, this star deckhand was kind of a big deal then, too.
Connie started surfing at the age of 7, which is when most of us are probably just starting to get the hang of walking. But when you grow up in a beach town as Connie did, surfing is basically second nature. By age 12, Connie started to participate in surf competitions, winning the East Coast Championships that same year.
But that wasn't just beginner's luck. Connie would go on to become the 2004 Surfing America USA champion for women under the age of 18.
Soon after, Connie competed in the Quicksilver World Junior Surfing Championships, which is one of the most prestigious competitions for a young surfer. There she had a solid showing, placing 13th in the girls' division and helping Team USA score the silver medal overall.
Perhaps most importantly, Connie came away from the competition with the new nickname Cackle because of "her loud, somewhat obnoxious laugh that seemed to bellow endlessly from within the USA Surf Team tent on Day three of the contest," according to a press release reporting Team USA's success in the event. One thing we know from watching Below Deck is Connie does like to have a good time.
During her career, Connie racked up a ton of wins, including the Queen of the Peak Pro Am division, the Billabong East Coast Wahine Championship in the Advanced Shortboard division, and the Corona Extra Pro Surf Circuit Domes Event. As a surfer for Billabong, Connie also got to travel the world, from Australia to Tahiti to South Africa. This press release even refers to Connie as a "Melbourne celebrity" because of her notoriety as a pro surfer. Did fellow Melbourne Beach, Florida native Kate Chastain know of Connie's celeb status back then, too?
If for some reason you need more evidence of Connie's skills, she even surfed in heels once, which is something you just have to see to believe. Now that's talent.
But just because we haven't seen Connie rush out to take on a major swell on Below Deck doesn't mean she's given up surfing for good. Connie still hits the waves every once in a while, and she's also been known to stay active with several other sports, including golf, paddle boarding, fishing, and really any other outdoor activity — especially if it involves water. You may even see her work the pole every now and again, something she has done to maintain her surfer shape in the past.
Is it possible for Connie to be any cooler? We think not.
See some adorable throwbacks of Connie and the Below Deck crew.