And just like that it’s the end of 2018!
It was a massive year of surfing, travelling, of friendships and appreciating the deep, enduring connections that keeps everything grounded and centred. It’s nature, it’s the ocean, it’s family and it’s the people you trust who will be completely honest with you. Being away for so much of the year, that understanding is like a rudder, helping stay on the course to the future!
I’m so grateful to the sponsors who have supported me, not only in competitive surfing, but in so many other ways – for encouraging me to share the stories and to stay passionate about what I believe in and learn and grow from it all. Thanks especially to Billabong, Firewire, GoPro, Shapers, HPC and Clayton Nienabar.
Here’s a quick round up of the year:
World Qualifying Series competitions
This was the first year I seriously followed the qualifying tour – to the Carribean, Japan, South Africa, USA and Europe as well as Australia. I had my ups and downs, with a knee injury earlier in the year playing a bit of havoc. I learnt to trust myself in travelling alone and taking care of my health along the way- I’ve nailed the medicinal dahl recipe as soon as I start to feel ill! I’ve seen the world through surfing competitively and found how easy it can be to get stuck in that buuble- how important it is to find true connections in unfamiliar situations. I finished the year ranked 96 in the international women and that will hopefully allow me to enter most of the higher ranked competitions in 2019.
This year I was able to go back to my birth place of Ecuador to visit my father and his (very extended) side of the family. It’s a big story and there’s lots to share…it’s still in process! We also did a quick trip to Nias, Sumatra on the search for magic waves and found beautiful connections.
One thing I am so grateful for is our tradition of trying to ‘give back’ on these family adventures. We bring boards and other useful surf type gifts to give to communities struggling, we donate to local causes that we are directly connected with and we try to share their stories.
Soul searching – Women of the Sea
One of this year’s highlights was the opportunity to meet and learn from the world’s true mermaids – the freediving women who sustained their communities from their intimate connection with the Ocean for thousands of years. The Ama of Japan number only around 2000 now, and 90% of the Haenyeo of Korea are over the age of 60. Diving with 81 year old Chunja-O in the clear waters of Jeju island gathering cockle shells for lunch was unforgettable, humbling and empowering at the same time…
It’s an ongoing journey of identity – searching out women and cultures connected to and sustained by the ocean – through multiple generations. And it couldn’t have been more timely with this year the WSL announcing gender equity for professional surfing. There’s a new wave surging to shore!
Caring for Life
It’s been a whirlwind, but along the way you get glimpses of the crises – heatwaves and fires, cyclones and weird, irregular weather, plastic everywhere, species extinctions…So you do what you can do – bring your reusable bottles and straws and cutlery, pick up the trash (and create less!), celebrate the simple pleasures, protect what you love – where and however you can. Understanding we are connected to everyone and everything makes it easier…
People think I model a lot – actually, it’s only been a couple of weeks in the year, but the images stay around for a long time! It’s something I’m very fascinated by and I’ve had so much fun with my Billabong Australia family traveling to the most beautiful places and receiving the opportunities to learn– especially from amazing photographers who have shared their wisdom and encouragement (esp. Josie Clough, Marina Alonso, and Mike Calvino…)
And, here’s the visual diary of the year! It’s hard work sometimes, but I hope sharing this will encourage others (girls especially) to get out there in nature and live life to the full!
Year of travelling vlogs