Letícia Parada Moreira

Canto do Forte, Praia Grande, Brasil

Photo Credits:

Tiago Ribeiro

Years Surfing: 5 years

Fave Board: Handboard

Instagram: @paradaleticia

Why do you bodysurf? I (body)surf because I feel inner peace. In the ocean I feel free. In bodysurfing, the wave welcomes my soul, my body and my mind. The sea is the master and my therapy. (Body) surfing has made me a better person. A more patient, braver and more confident person. I’ve learned so much from the sea that I feel so blessed by everything the sea has done and still does for me. But who am I? A woman who seeks the waves eagerly. And there’s nothing better than starting or ending the day (body)surfing. Being at sea is like meditating for me. It’s essential every single day.

When did you start bodysurfing? I started surfing when surfing and bodyboarding classes started at the University (I am a bachelor in Physical Education and Sports). That was in the 2014. When I was a kid (and until I was 22 years old) I lived away from the beach. So I used to go to the beach only in the holidays and some weekends. But my father was bodysurfing and I was restless that I couldn’t catch waves as easily as he did. However, my father lived near the beach until youth so that for him it was so easy to bodysurfing without even fins. So I bought my bodyboard in 2015 and started bodyboarding. In that same year, I saw a handboard to sell in an Instagram profile. I decided to give a big friend (it was Christmas time) and he liked it. So we went togheter to the sea several times. He was with his handboard and I was with my bodyboard. One day, in the outside when the waves are breaking so good, my friend asked for my borrowed bodyboard to catch a wave and left me with his handboard. So I tried to catch three waves while he didn’t come back to outside. And I made it. The feeling was incredible! I arrived in my home and showed the handboard to my dad who helped me build a wooden one. That was my first handboard and I have to say how much it was special. A week later, my friend and I traveled along the coast and stopped at Baleia beach (São Sebastião City) in order to check the waves. There were 3 foot waves and I decided to try out my handboard in those waves. And I was able to get a barrel and the feeling was even better. From that day on I didn’t stop and started to dedicate myself to bodysurfing. I need to say here that there’s a discussion about the terms “bodysurf” and “handsurf”. People initially called it bodysurf when a person caught a wave without any equipment, only with their own body. Some time later, the fins were considered a fundamental safety equipment for the bodysurf session. And the name of the sport has not changed. Remained “bodysurf”. Because of the spread of handboards in some parts of the world, some people started calling it like “handsurf” when someone got a fins + handboard. However, there are many people who call it bodysurf regardless of whether you are bodysurfing with the handboard or not. Anyway, this was my beginning in surfing and nowadays I do bodyboarding and bodysurfing, but I always give preference to bodysurf. And I can’t forget to say that life better in 2016. It was the year that I moved to the same city I was born. The same as my father surfed as a child and teenager.

What is your philosophy on the ocean? Focus on the present, live now and feel the wave right now. Leave your problems out of the ocean. Give yourself body, soul and mind to the sea. Because there is no more incredible way to relax and be happy. There is no purer contact with a wave than with bodysurfing. You and the wave. Your body sliding with nature. Literally. Everyone loves to get barrels because this makes the surfer’s day. But you can’t always get barrels because surf depends on different variables that we humans can’t dominate like wind, swell, weather, tide, you know. I believe life is like the tide. At certain times you’re in a luck tide, at the perfect tide where everything works out. And other times you’re in a bad luck tide, where nothing works. Surfing’s like that. Sometimes you’re in a spot that things only work out during high tide and others only during low tide. Change one detail and the perfect wave won’t exist. But you’ll still have a sea, so you can do many other activities in flat days such snorkeling, swimming, paddling, whatever. This is life. Every detail makes a difference, but there’s always a way to be happy. Just be humble, be open to learning with the ocean and make your own story.

How does it feel to be one of the only women out there? There was a moment, right at the beginning, that I was bothered by the looks the guys gave me. It was a look like “hey, what are you doing here?” “Bet you can’t be alone here in the outside” “Don’t disturb our session”. And I liked when my friend went with me. But the college was over and we had little time together and I started to go alone to the sea. I thought to myself “Hey, your life at sea can’t stop for that. You just need a 10-minute walk to leave home and get to the beach”. And since then it has become a habit in my life. Currently there are several guys who respect me at sea. I kind of am local here because I’m every single day in my home spot. Flat days or not. I’m there. After these years, some surfers guys come up to me and say thinks like “Wooow, you’re brave. Are not you afraid to stay in the outside only with a pair of fins and one handboard?”, “are not you afraid about some animal can attack you your legs?” “Wow, this handboard looks really sick! Can you get barrels?” “Where did you buy it? Super fun”. So my big advice to all the girls who want to surfing: don’t be afraid, go to the sea. Don’t think about what the guys are going to think about you. Don’t give up because of sexist comments or anything like that. Just have fun!

Favorite body surf adventure or surf story? Once I had a very serious allergic reaction to a jellyfish. I was swimming to get a wave and something went up my neck and burned. I got out of the water very tired and couldn’t walk. I felt my spine stuck, no movements. So the rescue took me to the emergency room and I got there and I explained what happened. And then nurses asked “Hey, did you drink something? Did you use drugs? We never saw a jellyfish case like that.” After talking to the doctor she said there are cases like that and some species of jellyfish that have stronger poisons.

Another story: I was catching waves on the Mole beach in Florianópolis (South of Brazil). There were about 30 surfers waiting for the 5-foot wave sets. No woman was there except me. Then I caught an awesome wave and went back to the outside. So a guy came up and said “Hey, you didn’t have to be here. It’s dangerous for you.” But like he didn’t me. So how did he know it was dangerous or not for me? Just because I was a woman around 30 men? Did he feel threatened in any way? Then a few waves came and he couldn’t catch it. So after many frustrated attempts on him, he paddled on the wave I was already and I humbly let him go (although I was already on peak). Result: a great wipeout of him. He couldn’t even stand up on his board. And I ended up getting the next wave. Moral of the story: never judge a person’s surfing style, not even her equipment. A pair of fins and a handboard may seem like nothing to you, but sometimes it’s more efficient and safer than a board you have no control over.

I think the craziest story that I have was in 2017. I had arrived on the beach at 8:00 am. There was no one surfing yet, but there were people walking on the sand. I met a friend who is a surf teacher and his class was going to enter the sea. I said “hi” to everyone and went to sea. They stood on one peak and I on the other. The class ended and I continued bodysurfing for another 2 hours. Until I started to hear a sound that could be a whistle, but it was very strange. So I kept waiting for the set of waves. So I bodysurfed a very good wave and went back outside to continue my session. After about 20 minutes, a SUP friend approached and said “Hey, good to see you here! Did you hear a whistle?” “I guess so, but I wasn’t sure what it was.” “You can’t believe it, but the lifeguard is whistling toward you.” “No way, really?” “Yeah, I don’t think he saw you bodysurfing. I can see him talking to other people from here.” Then I got a wave (super fun, I must say) and then the lifeguard walked towards me and said, “Ohh, it’s you! You were bodysurfing. I was going to call the Jet Ski, but it was taking a while, so I was about to call the chopper.” “Wow, what happened?” “A person walking on the sand saw you and called me. He said “there is a girl who entered in the sea and she didn’t come back. So I thought you were in a strong current and couldn’t get out”. After one week I went to the lifeguard station to enroll in a first aid course at the beach and they asked me where I was surfing. I said “I’m a bodysurfer and bodyboarder in Canto do Forte beach. At the same moment they said, “Hey, are not you the girl who was bodysurfing and the lifeguard opened a ransom call?” True story: the waves set were breaking away from the sand and were covering my head. So the chance of the lifeguard to locate me was small, so he asked for support. But the fact is that the lack of knowledge of the person who came to call the life guard has messed things up. The person didn’t see that I was using surf clothes, a pair of fins and a handboard. This caused an unnecessary inconvenience and could have taken the attention of the lifeguard to another occurrence. Women are able to be at the outside. And I want more and more women in the sea, especially women in the “bodysurfing world”. This is one of the reasons that makes me want to spread bodysurf more and more. Not only in my home spot, but in the whole world through my Instagram profile and my Youtube channel (under construction).

Extra: I have to thank my supporters who encourage me to be at sea doing what I love and a big aloha for sending awesome equipment. Mahalos Colibrí Surf, Keel Down Under, Hush and SurfEars. Last but not least, thanks you girls from Ocean is Female for giving me space and an opportunity to use my voice to speak for women of the ocean. Your project is incredible!

P.S.: If you are a woman who wants to be at sea or if you are already surfing, follow me on Instagram (@paradaleticia). It would be incredible to exchange experiences and stories with other “mermaids”.