Candid and intrepid Australian pro surfer originally from Albany, Western Australia; world-ranked #2 in 1985, and remembered as her generation's best female big-wave rider. Cooper was born (1964) and raised in the small whaling town of Albany, and didn't begin surfing until age 16. Making her pro debut just three years later, she placed runner-up in the 1983 Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach, was voted the tour's rookie of the year, and finished the season world-ranked #6. Over the next nine years the dependably cheerful Cooper won seven world tour events and never finished lower than fourth on the year-end ratings.
Raised on the powerful reefbreaks of Western Australia and employing a functional straight-backed style, Cooper was completely at ease in the big Hawaiian surf; in 1985 she became the first woman to regularly venture into the tube at Off the Wall and Backdoor Pipeline, and in 1992 she won back-to-back events at Sunset Beach and Haleiwa. (Vivaciously attractive, with high cheekbones and a perfect smile, she also did a small amount of modeling work in France and Australia in the late '80s.)
Cooper retired from the circuit in early 1993, but continued to make her presence felt in the surf world. "Don't Think With Your Dick," her treatise on sexism and basic civility, was published in 1994 by Australia's Surfing Life magazine; three years later Cooper came out publicly as gay, the first well-known surfer to do so.
Cooper appeared in a small number of surf movies and videos, including Ticket to Ride (1986), Shock Waves (1987), and Surfer Girl (1994). She occasionally offers webcast commentary and analysis for both women's and men's pro tour contests.
In 2007, Cooper suffered minor injuries to her hand after being attacked by a shark while surfing near her New South Wales home.