Miranda West Darley

San Francisco, California

Photo Credits: Surfers Cafe

Years Surfing: Full blown addict for 6 years

Fave Board: I have my favorite boards for different conditions. My current go-tos for this time of year at home is my 6’5” Bulkely pintail, 6’8” Dennis Pang, rounded pin and my 5’5” Lost RNF Redux. All time favorite Indo board is my 6’6” R.P. Arakawa.

Instagram: @mwdarley

What is your philosophy on surfing? For me, surfing a physical and mental discipline with spiritual benefits. It provides moments of total integration—a shortcut to “flow-state”. Because surfing offers this opportunity so effortlessly, it has become a reference point for everything else I apply myself to. It reminds me of what truly matters: to be in constant service of what brings me and others joy, to challenge myself and push the limits of what’s comfortable, to give myself fully, and find contentment and gratitude in whatever is given to me.

How has your surfing life in the water affected the rest of your life on land? In every way possible, from work, to how I eat, who I spend my time with, how I spend my money and where I live. I have literally built my life around having the flexibility to surf every day and travel for several months every year. Currently, none of my 5 jobs start before 11am, I only work for people who support my passion and I try to take as many jobs that are surf related as possible. I work for a local shaper (Pat Judah) who literally doesn’t want to see me at work when it’s offshore and pumping. Yes, it’s the dream job. How I do it? “Keep it small and keep it all.”

My dependence on the ocean has cultivated a great sense of responsibility to care for the environment and to help others foster a connection to it. This has lead me to share the stoke by teaching surf lessons and volunteering for causes I believe in. A couple campaigns I have devoted a lot of time to are, Surfrider Sonoma Coast Chapter’s “Free Our Beaches” which is working to preserve free public access to the Sonoma County Coast and “Save Bay Hill”, a successful community effort to prevent a large scale mining operation in the Bodega Bay watersheds.

What do you love about surf culture as it pertains to women surfers? It’s interesting to see the varied reactions I receive from guys on days when I’m the only woman out in overhead conditions. Sometimes it’s positive, sometimes it’s hostile. I’ve found that bad vibes in the water present the opportunity to go inward, focus on why I’m there, who I’m there for, and let my surfing do my talking. Letting it get you down or needing your guy friends back you up, isn’t going to shift anything. Strong, graceful and resilient women doing their thing will! There are two types of surfers, those who are stoked for you when you get a sick wave, and those who are jealous and feel more deserving. What is always consistent though, is that the ocean doesn’t care what my gender is.

Who are your surf heroes, and why? Note: I’d like to reframe this question if possible as “Who are surfers that inspire you and why?”

I think the word “hero” is somewhat problematic as it implies that that person is super human and that their achievements are out of one’s reach. It is also a gendered term and if we are speaking of supporting each other as women, I’d love to see our language reflect that inclusivity.

Answer: Of course the greats Jerry Lopez, Tom Curren, Stephanie Gilmore and Kelly Slater for their shear talent and what they have brought to the sport. I can’t wait to see where Caroline Marks goes. The way she lays down her turns is insane and I have no doubt she’s someone to be watching. But I admire Bianca Valenti and Rob Machado not only for their achievements as talented, powerful and graceful athletes, but also for how they have used their exposure to shed light on issues that are important to them while staying authentic to their nature. Bianca has done such an incredible job pushing for and helping achieve equality within the sport and making woman like myself feel included. I am so stoked to see the media coverage she has gotten recently and there’s no doubt she deserves it. She has used her platform as a badass big wave surfer to show you don’t have to be or look a certain way to charge and be recognized for it, which is something I believe the female surf community was hungry for and she has filled that roll with such stoke and humility, representing my home city of San Francisco in a way I am really proud of. She has encouraged me to paddle out on days at Ocean Beach I would have otherwise opted to stay in the car and there’s nothing like someone you admire believing in you and what your capable of and calling you into a bomb…even if you eat it! Rob Machado has maintained for the world what the roots of surfing are really all about. Why surf if you’re not smiling, sharing and spreading the love? And how about that hair!