Real stories about real surfer women.
We discovered Brenda on an Instagram binge. She's on a mission to travel (and surf) the world, using her Instagram account @chicksinthewater to promote diversity in surfing, and post pics of the awesome surfer women she meets along the way. Give her a follow!
Tell us a little about how you got into surfing.
It only happened about a year ago. I had always been attracted to the surfing culture and I loved watching others on the waves, but I had never had the opportunity to try myself. My friend at the time, (who is now my partner) gave me a lesson. I knew that surfing was going to become my 'new thing' when I stood up on that first wave. I realised then that surfing was going to take over my life after that.
What was your motivation to keep going after that first experience in the waves? What hooked you to keep paddling out, again and again…
There are so many different aspects of surfing that fill me with positive emotion. Sitting on my board waiting for waves can be so calming and relaxing. Catching and riding the waves fill me with a sense of accomplishment. Although paddling can be hard work, it's so rewarding! And the exercise is amazing for my body. Sometimes I get down about not being able to catch bigger waves especially with friends that are a lot better than I am, but I stay motivated by remembering how much it means to me. I'll be able to be on their level at some point if I stay focused!
What does surfing add to your life?
I find this question difficult because it has become so much OF my life. It's added fitness, I try to stay in shape so that I can surf better. It has definitely helped me make friends, too. I can be quite shy sometimes but after I started the @ChicksintheWater Instagram and Facebook page, I find myself running after people on the beach and asking for their photos. It's has been a great way to make connections. Surfing has also been my outlet to help spread causes that I care deeply about. Chicks_in_the_Water is all about promoting diversity and gender equality. I'm out surfing anyway, why not also take a few pictures if it's going to spread awareness?
What challenges have you faced in your surf practice, physically and/or mentally? How did you overcome them?
Challenge is something I've experienced throughout this entire endeavor that is surfing. In Western Australia there are a lot of breaks where you have to jump from rocks in order to get into the water. It also means you have to exit the same way. There were a few times where I'd just get smashed against these rocks and that was so mentally hard on me. The fear of not being able to get out of the water safely would be in the back of my mind while surfing and it would be so distracting. One time there was this beach known for its crocodile shore break because of its strong rip and crashing waves on the shore. Being a beginner trying to exit at the spot where everyone says to avoid was a mistake that stuck with me for months. I thought I was going to break my back. Luckily my body went into autopilot after my panic and it got me out of the mess. I think there is a point where you stop thinking and your body just starts moving when you’re in a situation like that. There is also every time I go in and the waves are big that I freak out. Of course, my tolerance is getting better. Now it's about six-foot when my heart starts to race. And about eight-foot is when I start to shit my pants. For the traumatic experiences, time heals everything. Keeping in mind why I love to surf reminds me that I can never quit. For those big waves, the more I put myself in them, the more my body will learn to deal with them.
What is your favourite part of the world to surf?
Well I've only been surfing in Australia, Taiwan, Philippines, and Indonesia. I think out of the four places Australia is number one because the west has so many beaches to choose from! A close second is Taiwan. I found it was pretty consistent and it's not well known so there are never crowds. I loved it.
What is your best surfing memory?
I was in Margaret River with a friend I had made from Germany. We were surfing pals. She had a sunset session and it was number one on my list of sunsets. It was gorgeous. The reds and pinks and oranges painting the sky and clouds. It was absolutely breath-taking. I remember looking ahead and watching my friend's silhouette in front of the sun and background of red as she was paddling to get back to her spot.
On a big day, what's your main motivation for paddling out?
On big wave days I try to go out to breakdown my fear. My friend used to say "as long as you got your hair wet, it's a good day". I love that saying, because usually on big days that's all it is! At least I'm trying.
What do you do when you're not surfing?
I love to go rock climbing and play guitar. In my spare time I also try to practice my Spanish.
We want to make surf clothing to keep up with ‘real surfer women’, what does that mean to you?
Long-lasting high-quality gear. If you're an athlete, your clothes are your gear as much as anything else. When my bikini falls off or my shorts thin and fade, it hinders my performance. I'm looking forward to what else you ladies come up with!
Thanks Brenda. Enjoy the waves!
And don't worry, the big waves will come.
Remember that no matter how many years of experience you have with surfing, we are always learning new things, and we all keep taking a beating now and then!
(what a bad ass rock climbing image right?!)