Queen of the Groms

Just imagine a platform where all surfer girls, from every corner of the globe, can show what they can do and try their best to progress. More girls surfing and feeling inspired to surf is good for everyone! Ultimately It’s about health, happiness and feeling connected with nature. We want a chance to show that girls can surf too and they are also pushing the boundaries. 

That’s what ‘Queen of the Groms’ is.

 According to India Robinson: 

“It all started just a few weeks ago with a group chat on Facebook messenger where surfer girls around the world started asking why only boys seemed to be able to enter the ‘young guns’ surf competition which is run via Instagram and allows kids from all around the world to share surfing clips tackling different surfing manoeuvres.

We started hashtagging some of our best clips – but we also decided to create our own Instagram page where we could share all the girls amazing talent. 

The aim at first was simply to be heard and to show the progression of girl’s surfing. We all want a chance to show what we can do and to be motivated to try harder and improve.

Overnight we grew to 600 followers and then soon went to 1000 followers. With this exposure, we were privately messaged about how the competition was open to female surfers as well as boys – it just seemed that no-one had ever tried or been encouraged to try. We were so happy for the clarification and started submitting our clips.

This idea is open and welcome to all -every single female surfer was a part of this. Every single person who shared our story was a part of this. We love sharing the best girl grom surfing with the rest of the world through Instagram. And it’s so exciting to see submissions coming from countries as diverse as Israel, Canada, the USA and South America.”

 So the whole movement of the Queen of the groms has shown a massive unity between young girls all over the world- sharing the motivation to be the best we can. For me, I’ve been competing with boys my whole life- from surfing in whitewash with my brother to competing to get a wave in the lineup. I love surfing with boys because they push you to new levels, so I was unsure about whether girls could enter the Young Guns competition- seeing as it was a male brand, male judges and only boys ever got selected.

But through coming together and asking ourselves, “Why not?!” We’ve got the attention and we know for sure, girls have an equal chance to make it as the boys!

The future of girls surfing is coming in hot! All around the world, picking up a surfboard and shredding! I say, watch out- as Queen B says so well…Who runs the world? GIRLS!

We want queen of the groms to be a way young girls can look up to other surfers and be motivated to try! We want to be strong, independent women; we want the same opportunities as the boys get… We want a future where 34 women are on the tour, not half as many!!!

Not getting a single girl in the next round of this year’s Young Guns only motivates us more to do it ourselves.

We know we are not ‘the same’ as boys- men may have more muscle, more aggression and more fearlessness – but we do think we should still be given the opportunities to gain equal respect.

Having a chance to showcase what we do in a global stage using surfing as a sport of diversity and uniqueness – there could be a place for the qualities that women bring to surfing – maybe it’s more style, grace, exuberance or even drama! Maybe there is even a place for more fun!

So, where do we go from here? Let’s spread the message, let’s find some supporters and sponsors to get on board and let’s run this Queen of the Groms comp!!!

It seems like an idea whose time has come. Maybe it’s time for girls to judge girls.    

Shredders in order left to right from the Gold Coast: Sienna Marshall, Shaye Leeuwendal, Pacha Light (me), Grace and Jasmine Kama, Konatsu Ido, Lily Wundke.

Shredders from Northern Beaches:

Gabi Spake, Cedar Leigh Jones, Hunter Roberts, Shayla Paterson, Sophie Fleeter, Blaze Roberts, Kyla Whitfield.

Photographed by Juan Medina and Rita Kulge.

A Road Trip in Canada

British Colombia, Canada.

The amazing locations, the different variations of snow and ice and all the wildlife with it. I love the ocean so it was quite incredible to be constantly surrounded by another form of H2O.
I fell in love with the way you could just watch the snow fall for hours and not get bored. How every snowflake was not like the other. As we come around the next bend, we see Deer, Elks and mountain goats. We got to be in the presence of beautiful wolf dogs- something beyond my imagination.  And apart from the freezing hands and toes- nothing beats a hot chocolate after a day in the snow.

So many adventures and experiences that were once in a lifetime- thank you Canada, forever has a place in my heart.

Watch below of our times in BC, behind the scenes of our shoots with Billabong and Geckos Adventures. Keep posted!

 

 

 

 

The Competition Season

 
For the past month I’ve been competing around Australia – from Bells Beach to Newcastle. We had decided that this year, I would venture into a new world of Pro Juniors and even try to get into a couple of World Qualifying Series competitions. 

The best girls in the 18 and under divisions and open women from all around the world want the top spot to either represent their country at the World Pro Junior or qualify for the World Championship Tour – the WCT. 

It’s quite hard to even get into the competitions themselves; first you have to establish a ranking, but you can’t really do that without entering a competition first, so it’s quite a challenging process! I’m starting with baby steps!
We started by packing our boards into trusty (rusty!) old van and driving 1786 km to get to the subway pro junior competition at Bells beach in Victoria. It always has an amazing, sacred atmosphere. During one sunset surf session a seal popped up in the line-up…while I was on a wave! We love the Atlantic.
 
Soon it was time to compete. I had a good start in my heat- getting some scores, but as the perfect 4 wave set came through, I was 4th priority and the girls suddenly let the first wave go. This meant they got the rest… and I was waiting for a wave that never came…

So, for the rest of our time there, I got to soak up the powerful energy of Torquay coastline and have fun with good friends we were staying with; music, wood fired pizza parties and lots of laughs! It was great to catch up with Laura Enever too – who came along as the Subway ambassador – so much fun!
 
Next we drove through 15 hours in 40C heat in our hot wheels to NSW for my first ever QS 1000 comp. Yep, that’s commitment! The destination was Maroubra – just outside of Sydney.
 
I surfed the small, difficult conditions and missed out on getting through my first heat by 0.1. It was really hard because I was so close!
 
But there’s always a good side to the surfing rollercoaster! It meant I had a couple of days to explore Sydney, reconnecting with friends, watching street performers, exploring the harbour on the ferries, surfing under rainbows and taking in the iconic sights.
 


We went to sunny Cronulla for another Pro Junior. I felt nervous but excited to surf my heat- and with some fun waves, I got through. I was so relieved to make it, even though my next heat was full of surfers who ripped. I had so many funny times, meeting new friends and old, some longer than 5 years. I didn’t get though my next heat but again absorbed it all and wrote it down to learn from.


 
A week later, I competed in my second QS 1000 in Cabarita,  just 30 mins down the road! I progressed through my first heat with a lot of seaweed in my hair, ready for the next heat. I had big names again in my round 2 heat but I tried to turn my nervousness into light-hearted fun! It was another loss – but my score was decent and I felt encouraged to keep trying.
 
The last competition for a while was held in Newcastle. I was pretty sick, with a sore throat and swollen glands and had just finished a photo shoot with 14 hour days. We were about to cancel, but thought that we should soldier on and see what it was like to compete with this bit of handicap. We drove through the night to realise I was on the last heat of the day – in the middle of a heat wave (40+C) and all we had was our oven-like car with no air-conditioning to rest up in – about as useful as a surfboard with no wax!
 
And then came another challenge. Even though my heat was already stacked (with Nationals under 18s winner India Robinson and Brazillian champion Taina Hinkel), it was an added surprise to see that World junior champion Macey Callaghan was put in our heat as well! 

Macy had just won the Boomerang beach WQS that morning and had arrived too late her first heat (so the other two surfers got a walk through) . Instead Macy was added to the last heat of the day. Oh well – nothing like surfing a final in your first heat!
 
All I could do was to try and hold onto my confidence, repeating the mantra in my head; ‘I can do this’. I stuck with the heat- posting a respectable score and then needing just one more wave. Well… The wave never came. I was out of another competition. 

I felt really frustrated because my score line would have gotten me through almost every other of the 7 heats. So after less than 12 hours in Newcastle, we drove the 8 hours back home to a full day in bed with lemon and honey and ginger tea.
 
This whole experience was about growing, learning and realising what it takes to reach that next level. I feel more certain that it’s not an impossible feat – just one more turn, one more level of commitment, one more stroke of luck in finding the right waves!
 
So this year, I’m dipping my toes in the pond of high level competition. Next year I hope to wade through the shallows. Finally, with a lot of hard work, coaching (thanks Clayton!), support (thanks Mum, Billabong and everyone else!) and a bit of luck – I hope to dive deep into serious competitive surfing! 

Oahu, Hawaii with Billabong Sisters

Oahu, Hawaii…

The land of aloha, the ever-changing magical island where ripples from the deepest Pacific Ocean storms crash into volcanic rocks and reef, to then disappear into a salty, cool breeze that sweeps across the lush forests.

 

This is the North Shore and it’s where I recently spent 2 weeks with the funniest crew from the Billabong women’s – athletes and managers, creative directors, social media, marketing- we became a family, a sisterhood of ocean lovers and global wanderers. The endless laughs, heartfelt stories and dance parties… I felt so euphoric that I didn’t need much sleep- I would just open my eyes to the view of the ocean and palm trees- hear the voices of the girls’ downstairs and would need someone to pinch me, I still think I was dreaming.

 

On the day of our arrival, Josie and I, passed pineapple fields, coffee fields and sugar cane that slowly gave way to an incredible view of the North Shore coast. One main road is used to get around town, very different to the multiple highways upon highways when flying into Honalulu. I couldn’t believe my eyes when we got to see Pipe from Billabong’s house at Off The Wall, years and years of legends have surfed this famous break- so many stories – I felt inspired and in awe at the same time.

 

I was even lucky enough to surf it (okay, maybe it was only 2ft and on shore!), but I still felt adrenaline pumping through as I paddled, looking down into the rocky caves and watching the girls rip apart the waves from Backdoor and Off The Wall. I was so excited to be there- I forgot to hunt for waves, I kind of lolled about- soaking it all in. Suddenly, as a wave broke, I saw a grey silhouette and called for the girls to check it out… A seal?! Alessa and Courtney said they’re here all the time- Bella and I had never seen a seal in the surf! I guess they like the tropical waters?? It still boggles me now. We had some pretty amazing experiences whenever we surfed- I got the closest I’ve ever gotten to a sea turtle- they were just chilling about the line-up, so cool!

 

One of my favourite things to do was to hike up to an incredible view- well, we usually raced up the muddy track- it was the funniest thing every getting back down the slippery slopes! Standing from the lookout, you could see from Sharks Cove all the way to V-land, with a birds eye view of Pipe and Sunset. I took a really deep breath and absorbed it all- I would joke about going to Hawaii- “I’ll go one day!”  but thought it was a far distant dream and now that day had become a reality.

 

While we were there, there was some VIP parties like the Surfer Awards and some Billabong parties where I soaked in the presence of living surfing legends- and meeting the people I follow on social media, pretty crazy! The food was delicious, all Acai bowls, Poke bowls and nachos from the local food trucks! It was crazy seeing different foods, no vegemite in Hawaii! But we found lots of yummy avocados!

 

I even had the chance to act – making an Instagram video skit with Culture Machine – (some may know of @urmumsyadad) a whole bunch of creative geniuses.  It was insane to work with them, but more importantly, it was amazing to get to know them as good mates.

Watch the video I made with them on the account.

 

During our stay in Hawaii, I got to surf with my inspirations, Laura, Courtney, Flick and Alessa- fellow team mates with incredible stories, from life to competition. Every time I watched them on a wave, it filled me with wonder… “How do they do that?” “Could I do that one day?” and when they were out of the water, we giggled and danced- just having fun. It made me feel like anything is possible- where there’s a will there’s a way! Even getting to a magical and inspiring place like Hawaii. Mahalo.

photo’s will follow.

 

From Hossegor to Lisboa! Road-trip

 

 

After my amazing times in France, instead of going home, my Mum, brother and cousin came to meet me! We had planned to road trip through Spain and Portugal investigating hidden surf breaks and getting to know areas where we might come back to compete- living in a van! We stumble across some beautiful, unexpected places throughout Spain- it reminded me of Ecuador and I loved every second of it. The food was amazing but we didn’t go out for dinner- we could just grab some bread, cheese and tomato from the local markets and enjoy each other’s company from the comfort of our mobile home. We stayed 1 night in a camping site but the other 20 or so nights were wild and free- we had no schedule so we could soak in the culture and atmosphere of some old Portuguese and Spanish towns and villages for however long we pleased. I was so happy to be with my family, not seeing them for a couple of months made a lot of funny catch-ups! The surf was always a hit or miss- we would come at a wrong tide or swell and the amount of rocks along the coastline of Portugal made it unsurfable… But there were some amazing sessions with some new friends, our favourite place would have been a town called Ericera- not far from Lisbon, the waves reminded me of Snapper Rocks, especially Coxos, the best wave in Portugal. Dogging sea urchins and some chilly 6 degree mornings, our trip had no big problems- other than Mum getting stuck on the smallest roads with the van, and we all made it back home in one piece! Hope you can get a taste of our adventures through some of these videos.

 

https://youtu.be/QYpPmz9NB88

 

https://youtu.be/sesEYteOh6s

 

 

Hossegor, France! 

France… wow. I’ve fallen in love with the South-West. As we ride our bikes to the centre of Hossgeor to get a crepe and ice-cream, watching the sun set into the bay of Biscay, the words bubble up… Je t’aime. 
A week after i arrived in France, and ate my weight in crepes, the WCT event, Quicksilver and Roxy Pro began, Michaela and i got to watch the best surfing in the world from the VIP area. It was so amazing being able to meet my favourite surfers while on the other side of the world, watching and cheering them on as they show what’s possible on Hossegor’s best, punchy beach breaks. 
The event was held at a nudist beach and although no one was brave enough to bare it all during the comp, after the crowds disappeared, walking up or down the beach to surf was even more picturesque!
The weather was perfect all event – chilly before 9 am but clear skies and clear, blue water. After many exciting heats, the competition was over and the countless rows of camper vans started to head back to their homes for the oncoming winter. The days began to get colder and clouds covered the sky, welcome to winter!
Thanks to my friend/roommate/sister, Michaela, I even had the chance to go to a French school. Starting from 8am till 5.30pm, I soon realised how lucky i am in Australia, where there is plenty of time to surf before and after school, and in school with our PBC surfing program!
What did I learn about French culture? One thing that stood out was ‘le baiser’ – the kiss. When you meet someone, instead of a handshake, it’s a kiss on each cheek. At first, i was very weirded out that i had to kiss strangers but i got used to it and i feel like it brings people closer, you feel much more connected to them.
Surf sessions with my friend Maixent and his little brother Arthur were full of so many hilarious moments, the waves of Hossegore are never ending and there is always a good bank. 
I went into Biarritz a couple of times to surf and visit friends and it’s like no other place on earth- grand palaces that was built for the queen of France sit on the edges of cliffs and small islands stick out of the ocean, the streets of biarritz are very small but bustling with business men, surfers, farmers and tourists. 
There is such an amazing beach culture in the south west. Oh yeah the waves are pretty good as well. Of course, the food was insane, croissants, crepes, ice-cream, sorbets, baguettes and cheese i didn’t know existed! 
The French language is like music to my ears. The accent, pronunciation and all the strange expressions were absolutely incredible to listen to. I couldn’t speak a word when i arrived but was quickly introduced to the basics and i really want to learn more by the next time i visit. It was the emotion behind the words that i found really fascinating. 
I am so grateful to so many people. I couldn’t have stayed in France for so long without the warm hearts of the Weinhold and Dudez families, Merci! I have so many people to thank for making my time in France so wonderful, Merci to the Agnes family, i had so many amazing memories with you all, so kind! Thank you to all the groms from the Landes who shared their waves, so much fun surfing with you! Thank you to the Becret family for the fun surfs and filming, to Lou Surfou surf club for welcoming me, to Christelle and the Billabong family for keeping me warm! . Thank you to the Joly and Lacome house for letting me stay with you in Biarritz. And thanks to my family and all the sponsors and supporters who helped get me to to the ISA World juniors which led to this grande French adventure! https://youtu.be/Yc0qMT9aRW4 

After France, my family came over to take me on a vanlife surfing roadtrip through Spain and Portugal. You can follow all these adventures here: 


Azores! 

Sao Miguel , Azores Islands, Portugal… Spectacular landscapes, life changing experiences and one of the most changeable waves I’ve ever come across – representing Australia in the ISA world junior surf championships was a dream come true!
 
It was a historic gathering, with a record of 39 different countries represented in over 371 surfers, all on this small island, doing what they love! It was the first ISA world junior competition following the announcement of surfing becoming an Olympic sport in the next Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2020.
 
It was a long way away, the Azores – somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean! 14 hours to Dubai then another 8 to reach Lisbon, Portugal and after a night in Lisbon, 2 hours to Azores – 12 young competitors, loaded up with bulging board bags in our green and gold team shirts! It was the first time I had travelled without my family, so very far away – exciting and nerve wracking at the same time…a feeling so hard to describe…
 
But for me this journey began a long time ago – firstly competing in the state titles, then coming 2nd in the under 16 girls in the Nationals last November. We raised the funds for my ticket through GoFundMe, my friends, family and generous sponsors. Help has been there every step of the way in equipment, coaching and moral support – I’m so thankful!
 
Travelling with us was Clancy and Cameron from the HPC and the legend Jay ‘Bottle’ Thomson, who always gave us the best advice and constant support.
 
‘Relentlessness’, ‘Passion’, ‘Pride’, ‘Mateship’ and ‘Adaptability’ were our Ozzie team keywords. We were determined to find something good in bad situations- by smelling the roses! These values helped us through our wins and losses as well as our many, many good times.
 
Being in such a remote part of the world made me think about how lucky we are to surf every day and hopefully forge a future life out of this profession.
 
We stayed on one side of the island with the competition site was on the other side. Every morning we were blessed with views to a volcano on our left and cute little towns and villages on our right on our way along the narrow road, driving (very slowly and carefully) through small communities along the way– greeted by big smiles.
 
The beach where the competition was held, is hugged by beautiful cliffs and the town of Ribera Grande. Some of the local kids would hang around and grab any unwanted snapped boards and we would see them the next day surfing their new sled!
 
The town was so close to the beach, we walked to the supermarket for lunch almost every day – marvelling at the different kinds of food available in this part of the world. After long days at the beach, cheering our team, we would head back to the hotel for dinner then collapse on our beds to gather energy for the day ahead!
 
Every night, I would go to sleep and feel so excited for the next day- new experiences, exciting waves and new people to meet! There was so much adrenalin, for my heats, watching other team members heats – watching, learning and trying our best! I was so happy to reach the quarterfinals, but disappointed that my campaign ended there…I realised how much more I have to learn, practice and grow to progress in this brilliant sport!
 
It was such a good feeling to be part of a team. We all learned so much about what it meant to work together, cheering each other on, supporting and encouraging each other. With blow up kangaroos and screeching whistles, we kept up the Ozzie tradition of cheering on all our team members! I was happy to see my contribution help Australia gather the points to come 2nd overall in the world! France was so happy to win – the first time ever in history!
 
This competition, from a far, felt so daunting surfing at a world stage- but as soon as I got into the water, it was like any other and every other competition- it made me think how possible ‘big’ comps really are. Obviously with lots more practice, it makes the qualifying series not look as scary!
It was an experience of a life time and I’m so happy I got to be part of team Australia!
 
Now I’m in the land of baguettes and croissants, soaking up the incredible French culture!