Years Surfing: 5 maybe. Not sure. 2 seriously
Fave Board: 9.6 Single fin Longboard
What/who got you started surfing? I come from the beach and had a few tries when I was younger but never took to it. Surf culture in Australia in the 90s was quite aggressive and I never gelled with it. It was only after moving to Tanzania that I really got into it and found my love (and fear) for waves.
What is your philosophy on surfing? To me, surfing grounds me and re-balances me. I love being out there in the swell where it’s quiet and I can daydream and forget about everything other than the next wave. I love the wait in between sets and I love being out there even if I only get one successful wave a session. I especially love surfing with the girls but I’m known to paddle off on my own down the line and have a few solo sessions.
Where do you see women’s surfing in the future, say 10 years out? I think Women’s Surfing has come a long way. If you look at a Tracks Magazine from the 90s and compare it to now, there’s been a huge shift in how they advertise or even talk about women in their articles. Previously, to advertise a traction pad, they’d use a model in a bikini, which had absolutely nothing to do with selling traction pads. Now, they use actual surfers with images of them surfing to advertise such things. I was appalled at the blatant sexism of surf magazines like that from back in the 90s or even early 2000s and it’s that same thing that kept me out of the water for so long growing up. I think that type of thing kept many girls out of the water. Surfing was something the boys did and the girls sat on the beach and watched. That is changing though, we will see surfing at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, and with the WSL announcing equal pay and pioneers like Steph Gilmore and Capt Liz Clark leading the way, I am positive that it’ll be just as solid as the men’s surfing is today.
Best wipeout story? At our local break, I was surfing with two girlfriends and pearled on a wave. My whole body went into a sort of Scorpion and my legs came up over my back to my head, crunching my middle back. I thought I’d drown and just lay motionless in the water until the set past and I could come up for air. I wasn’t sure I could move my legs and when I tried I screamed out in pain. My friends came rushing over to help, thinking they’d have to stretcher me in, but I could breathe and I could move, it was just painful. I was out for a week after that. My Husband was travelling and I needed help with the baby because I couldn’t walk properly or lift him. After that, I decided to never surf alone again because the thought of injuring myself like that and not having the use of my legs scared the hell out of me. I think I was really lucky I was with friends that day.
What do you love/hate about surf culture as it pertains to women surfers? I love that women’s surfing is usually free of the aggression that you can sometimes find amongst the men and I really love the sisterhood that seems to bond us, even if we don’t know each other. I was once surfing at a break in Australia and having trouble catching anything until I saw huge pod of dolphins. My head wasn’t clear so I decided to paddle further out to try and just get a better view of the pod. I was sitting there, taking it all in when the pod started to swim right for me. They came so close that I actually teared up with emotion and then out of nowhere a girl next to me says “it’s beautiful, isn’t it” which scared the life out of me. I hadn’t realised that she’d paddled out after to me to see if I was okay and then sat there watching the pod with me when she realised why I’d paddled out. It’s things like that that makes me love the women’s surf culture. That a perfect stranger can tune in to your moment and silently share it with you. I find that whenever I paddle out, it’s always the other women who respond to a smile or a wave or a hello. We don’t need to sit and chat, but a bit of friendliness can make a huge difference in a lineup. I think there’s an unspoken rule that we look after each other, even if we’re strangers.
Who are your surf heroes? My surf heroes are the girlfriends I surf with. Of course you can say Steph Gilmore and Chloe Calmon or Soleil Errico, that’s a given. But the women who inspire me most are the women I share waves with. To see their smiles after catching a great wave and to hear us cheer each other on and encourage each other to go bigger, harder, faster is where it’s at for me. There’s always laughter, cheers and support and I adore that.
Favorite spot to surf? A gorgeous spot in Sri Lanka (not sure I’m allowed to name it) and also my home break in Tanzania at Coco Beach.
How has your surfing life in the water affected the rest of your life on land?
Surfing has had a massive impact on my life. I had my first (miracle) baby at 38 but had many physical issues from the pregnancy and birth, including an unplanned c-section, separated abdominals muscles, Symphesis Pubis Dysfunction and depression. I was banned from surfing in week 24 of my pregnancy after going into premature labour and grounded in the US for two months before being allowed to travel home to Sweden to give birth. I went into pre-term labour 3 more times after that and it had me out of the water for almost a year. Once I was better, I started with a Personal Trainer, a Women’s Health Physio and a Biokineticist to help rehabilitate my body. 8 months later and I’m doing well but it’s a long and hard road and I’m not sure I’ll ever get back the same type of body I was used to before having my Son. Surfing is the single biggest thing that helps me to stay motivated and positive about my recovery. It helps me to stay fit, but also motivates me to keep fit, both physically and mentally, out of the water, too.