‘Glide’ the Alaia

Meet ‘Glide’.

Glide is an Alaia surfboard.

She takes pride of place in our living room – a work of art leaning against the wall, a talking point to just about everyone who comes in; ‘What is that?’, ‘Where did you get it?’, ‘Can you actually ride it?’.

‘Glide’ (lovingly) came to life in my brother Yani’s hands – his first time shaping, out of a sustainably harvested slab of Paulownia wood supplied by our eco building wizard friends from@xylosinuous and @wooden_anchor_andy . There had been lots of shark activity and as the beach was closed, a bunch of boys got the tools out and got to work!

Gilde is very, very difficult to ride!

On those small days when you want to remind yourself to stay right in the pocket and compress deeply to stay balanced – and spin around everywhere… Glide is your perfect companion! Those days when most other people say; ‘awww the surf is crap’, that’s the time to bring her along – especially as we can’t bear to put a hole in her for a leg rope, and you don’t want her to bump into anyone.

Glide was designed asymmetrically to work better on the right hand breaks we have here on the Gold Coast and she has a little concave bottom aiming to get a little more projection along the wave.

There are so many, many ways to love surfing – to love playing the ocean. We started riding on dinged up old boards from garage sales and they were as much fun as the latest, modern, high tech, competition ‘blades’. It just depends on your goals and your mood at the time!

‘Glide’ is our constant reminder of where surfing all began – riding simple slabs of wood on those big Pacific waves…

Here’s how she was made!

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Surf Obsessed!!

Finally I’ve been able to get back on a short board after a few weeks out with my knee injury and the waves are pumping on the Gold Coast!

It is just an absolute joy and the best job in the world to be able to surf for 5 hours a day with friends, family and legends of surfing who motivate you to keep challenging your limits!

I’ve just come back from a whirlwind of a journey in Japan, a country of culture and grace and incredible food. I travelled from the city to the ocean – doing environmental talks on sustainability, ocean love and girls empowerment with the Sloth Club, shooting with the talented and gorgeous Marina Alonso for a special project I can’t wait to share with you, and hanging out with the GoPro crew for a week. We went to festivals, explored Tokyo city and drove for hours along the coastline looking for waves!

We surfed the barest of ripples on longboards, fish boards and soft tops – and it was always so much fun, but to be honest, all I could think about was getting back on my performance short boards on some big waves – turning, shading, swooping, sliding, floating, dancing…

The contrast of experiences again made me realise that the most important and sustaining thing in all these travels is to be true to yourself. With every encounter I learn something new about myself and the world – making it that much easier to step out of my comfort zone for the next adventure!

Now I’m getting boards and equipment and coaching and physical training and everything else I need to get together – with fantastic help from my sponsors and family – all to be ready in just two days to head back to South Africa – one of my all time favourite surfing destinations. So full of stunning nature, epic waves and the most open hearted of people.

Comfortable in your own skin💪🏽

Lately I’ve been thinking about the long process about truly feeling comfortable in your own skin – flaws and all. That struggle for perfection that will never be won, and the freedom you get when you fully accept who you are.

I’ve struggled with fitting in my whole life.

I was always the crazy child running around wanting to play, dance, fight, laugh, and do whatever the boys were doing because I had more fun doing real things than sitting still gossiping with the girls at school.

When I was around 11 years old I was told by my school mates that I was “too skinny”. Until then I’d never really thought much about my exterior- good or bad, I always thought it’s just me. Kids at school said I was gross and asked if I even ate food- I would go home to my mum and blame her for not feeding me enough so I tried to eat double portions to feel accepted. But it didn’t work for long- I couldn’t sit still at the dinner table and I would play my favourite songs and dance around between each bite… I started surfing and found carefree love for the ocean- it always seemed to wash away my worries… I loved life too much for opinions to slow me down.

When I got to high school new problems started to come up… Puberty. First I started getting one or two pimples on occasion when I ate a lot of sugar the day before and I had to put tinted zinc to try and hide them but let’s just say the kids were ruthless. Boys especially. They loved pointing them out and gawking at my pimples as if they were some sort of contagious disease. Of course, we were young and at the most awkward time of our life – confused about why we had to worry so much now, unsure about how to deal with these horrible feelings that everyone is judging you with each glance in your direction.

In the next couple of years it only got worse, I don’t remember any time where I did not have a big red zit somewhere on my face. My forehead was covered in small whiteheads and I began to develop more cystic acne along my cheeks and sometimes my chin. I felt gross and even though some of my peers were going through the same thing, I still felt alienated and alone. I tried to smile as if I didn’t care about the colony of angry red spots on my cheeks…I caked oily make-up on my face every day for 2 and a half years.

I tried lots of home remedies; honey masks, Aloe Vera, toothpaste, tea tree oil, different types of cleansers and exfoliators. I changed my diet, cutting out sugar and dairy products – eating as cleanly as possible… I felt frustrated because they worked once or twice but nothing cleared it completely. Stress from school work, surfing results, being the skinny girl who was as flat as a chessboard made everything worse. And worrying about whether my face would ever clear up only made my skin worse. I didn’t have the strength to not touch the spots – I wanted them gone as soon as possible, not thinking about how they would leave scars.

Looking back, I was attacking my skin- it was the enemy. I let it control my life and I think mentally I made it a much bigger issue then it was, feeling so self-absorbed that I was unaware of all the wonderful things that I got to experience with my surfing. I started taking antibiotics when I was 15 years old, hoping it would help and tried to focus on my surfing.

I began to travel for competitions and I felt relieved to get out of the bubble where appearance was everything. Ironically this was when I started some modelling for Billabong and explored a whole new part of the surfing world. I had the same feeling all over again- sitting in hair and make-up just hoping they wouldn’t say how bad my skin was that day.

The antibiotics weren’t working and the acne was beginning to leave scars. At 16 my mum and I went back to the doctor and asked what we could do next. There was a treatment called Roaccataine but with excessive sun exposure from surfing meant this was not an option. The other option was to control my hormone spikes with a mild form of the pill. After 4 months my skin started to clear and left me feeling happy and relieved. Finally I could free my skin and let it truly breathe, I felt refreshed and from then on I’ve let it do its own thing- not over cleansing and blocking it with different products- just finding the right balance for me.

At the same time, my body started to change, my metabolism started to slow down, and for the first time in my life, I started to put on weight. I became aware of ‘squishy areas’ that were once just skinny muscle and bone! I was kind of happy, I mean this is all I’ve ever wanted since I was a little girl- to be normal! But with this new growth came yet another challenge – stretch marks on my thighs and my butt. Now what could I do? I cleaned my diet even further, started doing more fitness work outs on top of my surf training and strength conditioning.

It’s made me happy to fuel myself with fruit and veggies. I feel more in tune with my body and I eat when I’m hungry but stop when I’m full- making sure I’ve got energy to burn when working out and training.

Self-control is an ongoing process,  but as I grow older I know what my body needs and I think that whole awareness has given me more reassurance that I can be happy as long as I’m healthy and active. Genetically, I’ll always have the skinny legs from my mother’s side and my father’s side just is more susceptible to stretch marks…

I feel like I’m coming full circle on my 17 years on this earth and in this body- learning to accept things about myself and to feel grateful to be healthy, I’m still learning to stop comparing myself with others – comparison is the thief of joy. I am who I am and every squish, acne and chicken pox scar, stretch mark and every dimple of cellulite just makes Pacha, Pacha.

I think if you are happy and healthy, doing what you love and bringing happiness to others- whatever ‘flaws’ you may have fade into insignificance. And I’ve learnt that nature will never judge you; playing in the ocean, adventuring in the forest, dancing in the rain will always make you feel fully alive and remind you of who you truly are.

Martinique, Caribbean

Winding French roads through mountains, oceans, waterfalls with cane and banana plantations, all in the middle of the Caribbean. Martinique… a beautiful combination of the two cultures.

I traveled there to compete in a Women’s 3000 Qualifying Series event and enjoyed my time eating croissants for breakfast and dining on the fresh seafood and local organic vegetables.

I surfed at the contest site with friends until the sun went down, a long right wave that broke on shallow rocks that were quite a stumble to get in on but fun non the less. I didn’t do very well in the competition, getting knocked in the first round heat. I felt very disappointed in myself on making many wrong decisions… You always have to learn from your mistakes and always be grateful! So for the rest of my time on the island, we did some adventuring down to Tartane, a beautiful town with many fun reef breaks. The backdrop of this place was amazing- covered in radiant green palm trees with the bluest ocean I have ever seen. I was with such an awesome group of friends, every trip was so fun! We hiked up and down and through the mud to a beautiful waterfall one day and surfed for countless hours the next!

The local people of Martinique were so funny and kind, I definitely made friends with some hilarious characters – who tried to teach me Creole, a local language that mixes both French and Caribbean!

There is so much magic in such a small island- I can’t wait to go back and discover more!

Here is my video log from my week there, I hope you enjoy!

2017 Wrap Up, 2018 Lets Go!

The year 2017 has opened up a new level for me in surfing professionally – moving from grom comps in Australia, to competing in the World Qualifying Series (WQS) all around the world – thanks to extra help from my main sponsor, Billabong. The confidence to keep going and set the bar higher reflects the belief and support from so many – especially from my family. It’s given me the courage to travel overseas (often as a solo traveller), follow my heart and beliefs on environmental campaigns and share the stoke of a sustainable surfing lifestyle.

 

Competitions:

In 2017 I started in my first ever WQS (1000) event in Marourbra in January, where I didn’t progress through the first heat. I learned a lot, and took this into the next event in Cabarita where I did move at least through the first round. Meeting Tanika Hoffman on a Billabong shoot in Canada started me thinking about going to South Africa to do some WQS events in June. Thanks to incredible support from Sophie Bell and her family and coach Clayton Neinabar, I had one of the best experiences of my life travelling alone to a most beautiful country and, as a bonus, came away with 3 runner-up results in the Pro Junior events and a semi-final finish in a WQS 1000, the Ballito Pro. This gave me an international ranking, in turn opening up opportunities to enter more competitions. I ended up competing in two more WQS 1500 events (France), a WQS 3000 (Japan) and into my first, top ranked WQS 6000 in Port Stephens, Australia. I am now sitting on a WQS ranking of 113, which helps me get into more competitions in 2018.

Back on the Gold Coast I was stoked to win my age division (16 and under) Snapper (Rules!) Surfrider club rounds, especially having been overseas for 3 months of the year – with some of the best upcoming surfers in Australia, it’s a great burst of confidence on the competition scene.

 

Sponsors:

I am very grateful to be supported by: Billabong as my major sponsor (who have taken me to some amazing places this year!), GoPro (story telling essentials and the equipment just gets better and better), Shapers (board hardware by local family legends), Firewire surfboards (a new relationship that started this year I’m super stoked about!), Clayton Neinabar (the best technique coach in the world! Hehehe!) and an ongoing collaboration with Amazonia (for ethical, organic, vegan acai and other health products). I’ve really tried to align with companies and causes that represent who I am – or who I want to be!

 

Environmental actions in 2017

 

  • Supporting the SeaBin Project led to presenting the company at the Byron Bay Surf Festival with a talk and video
  • Joining the FireWire Surfboards team, leading sustainable surfboard manufacturers, was a perfect fit. It feels so good to ride high performance boards that cause less harm to the planet – the way of the future!

 

 

  • India – My Mother took my brother and I to this amazing country to visit environmental projects and we hung out with a bunch of groms from Mumu’s Surf School! They do beach clean ups in exchange for using the boards, a great way to take care of the heavily polluted beaches of the South East coast of India. We donated 5 pre-loved boards to the school and cleaned the beaches with the groms!

 

  • Japan During the WQS 3000 in Kamogawa, Japan, I noticed the competition site was just 700m away from a SeaWorld, literally a few meters separating the tanks of marine animal to the Pacific Ocean. That really affected me. It was heartbreaking to see the animals struggle to find a way out! I thought it would be torture being be to hear the waves and salty breeze and not be free. I made a video to highlight that most people around the world have no idea that orcas shouldn’t be in small tanks. I look forward to going back to Japan and supporting the inspiring grassroots movements to live more gently on the Earth.

 

  • Surfrider Foundation. My family and I joined some of the beach clean ups – including at beautiful south Stradbroke.  I also take part in the Eco Surf Challenge every year, promoting ‘Alaia’ surfboards made from ecological sourced timbers. A great time for the family and the earth! Towards the end of the year I helped promote the new Smart Fin program (http://www.surfrider.org/programs/smartfin) where important information about the sea water quality is recorded and uploaded to a data base. And this is all happening while you surf! I think it’s very valuable to understand the ocean’s health as it ultimately reflects on our own health, so by learning, we can begin to take greater care of our seas, as it provides us with so much.

 

Travel and sharing stories/ Social media

I could never have imagined the way life has unfolded – I feel lucky to have been nagged by my mother to write blogs, make video logs and keep sharing my experiences through Instagram and Facebook. It’s not easy, takes a lot of time and energy, but hopefuly interesting and encouraging to others! There are currently 53K people following my Instagram account, which has evolved organically over the years. I really hope it empowers people, especially girls, as a platform to promote healthy and sustainable lifestyles and stand up for important causes. I feel like it helps me share stoke – not only about surfing, but about life in general – we have so much to be thankful for! Also to have the tools to be able to DIY it – filming, editing, directing, producing – learning so much as I go along.

Current social media platforms include:

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCDyJVDaMy1Wnk8PtzbA4Xrw

Blog: https://pachalina.wordpress.com

Instagram: @pachalight

 

Life choices:

Right now, my main focus is still on improving my surfing. This has meant daily coaching (thanks Clayton!) and physical training and thousands of hours in the surf! Mid-way through 2017, I made the choice to finish school and carry on with online studies so I could to travel more easily and focus on the opportunities that surfing is offering for me right now.

 

Empowering girls in the Surf!:

It’s so exciting to see so many more girls jump into the ocean and give surfing a try! There have even been days when I’ve been out in my local break and there are more girls than boys out there (sorry guys!). Last year Laura Enever invited me to be part of the ‘Sol street’ celebration – encouraging girls to feel confident in themselves and in the ocean, dancing, laughing and playing in the waves!  We came up with the ‘Queen of the Groms’ idea to try and get some more exposure for women progressing their boundaries and pushing their surfing (info here: https://pachalina.wordpress.com/2017/05/28/queen-of-the-groms/). India Robinson and I started an Instagram account (@queenofthegroms) to showcase girls surfing and started generating some energy around this – hopefully we can move it forward in the year ahead.

 

Future plans 2018 and beyond:

In 2018 I plan to focus on my surfing, training very hard, doing as many Pro Juniors and WQS as I can – taking me to some incredible places all around the world. My aim is to move up the WQS rankings into the top 50 by the end of the year. There are so many variables, including timing and travel budgets – but I hope to be able to get in to the WQS3000 events and maybe even into some premium WQS6000 competitions this year. On the WQS competition bucket list are places like South Africa, Europe, the USA, Bali, the Philippines, Japan and the Caribbean.

 

We are also planning a trip home to Ecuador – reconnecting with our Latino family after 5 years! visiting our friends and our cloud forest reserve, surfing (maybe in the Galapagos ?!) and catching up with what’s been happening there. I look forward to raising awareness about the incredible biodiversity and culture in Ecuador and support important causes to protect the cloudforests especially. We are also planning to connect up with WQS surfer Dominic Barona and hopefully promote more surfing, especially for groms!

 

I’m so excited to compete, experience, learn and grow as well as having lots of fun and hopefully getting together some good results! One of the things I have learned the most over the past year is in ‘keeping things real’ – making choices that are true to who I am and what I believe in – in quite a confusing and crazy world. It is definitely a work in progress, but it seems to have led me in the right direction up to now!

 

Thank you again for all your support and looking forward to sharing this journey with you!

Pacha Light

Adventures on Oahu!

I traveled from the Hawaiian Island Kauai, to Oahu for a week of fun with Billabong! We hit up Waikiki, the North Shore and the West Side! It was very busy but the most fun ever! I got to hang out with the coolest people and be a part of some incredible moments! Hope you enjoy the video i put together.