FIRST WAVES is a format where female surfers, both amateurs and professionals, simply tell us in their own words, about their first relationship with surfing, and how it has changed them.
They are beginners, professionals, activists, mothers, students... They are all different but they share the same passion: surfing. And they could be you!
[Click here to find all their inspirational stories]
Today we're glad to meet Marta, an amazing Mediterranean girl, who fell in love with surfing after discovering her love with snowboarding (yeah she's quite a boardrider). She shares with a true authenticity her surfing journey and is a true inspiration for girls and boys to follow their passion, while staying coherent with their environmental values.
Here is her story.
[Follow her on Instagram: @surfragette]
HI MARTA, COULD YOU INTRODUCE YOURSELF IN A FEW WORDS?
Hi, thank you for having me :)
My name is Marta Tomasini, I’m Italian and the one behind the Instagram page @surfragette.
I moved to Biarritz almost 7 years ago to pursue my dream of living by the ocean.
Being a surfer in the Mediterranean Sea wasn’t always easy. First of all, I used to live 2 hours drive from the coast - which didn’t help!
Secondly, you may know that the waves along the Italian coast are more rare compared to those in the ocean and not the same quality, which makes very frustrated surfers.
Sometimes my friends and I woke up at dawn and drove all the way to the coast only to find out the sea was completely flat!
Then my boyfriend and I decided to try and live in Biarritz for a few months to experience life on the Atlantic cost, but we never left. Now we have a baby who’s born here almost 3 months ago!
WHAT IS YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH SURFING TODAY?
When you’re in a place where the waves are so rare you don’t know when the next session will be, you want to be there if the swell arrives. Even if you’re sick, have your period, need to prepare a big presentation for work or it’s your grandma’s birthday. You HAVE to be there and somehow it gets more of an obsession and less of a pleasure.
I guess I feel much less pressure right now, compared to when I was surfing in the Mediterranean. I surf only when I want to, when there are the conditions I love and overall just to feel good.
Today I just enjoy it and I feel more fulfilled.
COULD YOU TELL US ABOUT THE MEMORIES YOU HAVE OF YOUR FIRST WAVE(S)?
Actually I don’t exactly remember what my first wave looked like. I only remember the feeling of pure stoke.
It was during a trip to Morocco about 10 years ago. I stayed in a small southern village for almost a month and “surfed” in the white wash almost the whole time (if you can call that surfing!) - but for a day at the end of my staying, when the conditions where perfect for me to have my first “real” surf.
As I said, I don’t actually remember the size or the shape of the wave. I only remember I was SO happy and smiling all the time. And the wall of the wave was so green and crystal clear. I must have thought the wave was so big ahahah
WHAT WERE YOUR MOTIVATIONS FOR STARTING SURFING?
I grew close to the Alps and have always been a snow bunny - I started skiing at 2 years old!
Then when I was a teenager I started snowboarding and got more and more into board sports. I’ve always been attracted by surfing… it was this exotic sport that could only be practiced far away in as much exotic locations, such as Hawaii or Polynesia. When I was 20 my snowboard trainer went to Morocco with his girlfriend to build a surf school in a small village in the South, so I decided to join them for a little while.
From the first day in the water I was hooked. Then I found out I could surf back in Italy too and from that moment on I never stopped.
DID YOU HAVE ANY FEARS OR A-PRIORI ABOUT SURFING?
Surfing has always been far away in my imagination. Exotic locations and bikini ads formed in my mind the ideal stereotype. So I couldn’t believe I could actually surf in the less exotic Europe, let alone in the Mediterranean Sea!
Concerning my fears, I’ve never been one of those surfers who loved the water since when they were little kids. I’ve always spent my free time in the mountains, apart from my summer holidays in the Mediterranean coast, and deep waters scared me. They still do! But surfing helps me tame this feeling.
WHAT DID PUSH YOU FROM DREAM TO ACTION, WHAT MADE YOU TAKE THE STEP TO CATCH YOUR FIRST WAVE?
I’ve always loved board sports and despite I wasn’t as at ease in the water as I was on the snow, I’ve always felt attracted by surfing. The moment I had the chance, it felt natural to try!
It was frustrating at the beginning, but failing wasn’t an option for me. So, I kept rising after each fall and somehow one day I made it to stand up on my first real wave.
DID YOU HAVE ANY DISCOURAGING MOMENTS? WHAT MAKES YOU KEEP THE FAITH TO CONTINUE TO TRAIN AND PROGRESS IN THESE MOMENTS?
Yes, of course! There were several discouraging moments. Especially at the beginning, when you see everyone succeeding at standing up on their board, while you still can’t keep the balance. Or when your friends are all paddling towards the lineup, but you keep getting smashed in the inside. After a while you get frustrated when you can’t nose ride or do that maneuver you saw in the latest surf movie….
So, yes, you can get discouraged from time to time, but in the end the pure stoke you feel while sliding on a wave makes you keep trying and trying and eventually improve. What I learnt over time is that, even if you don’t progress, or don’t do it as fast as you would like, it doesn’t really matter - as long as you keep enjoying the ride.
WHAT DOES SURFING BRING TO YOUR DAILY LIFE? DOES SURFING PLAY A ROLE IN YOUR PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT?
I don’t talk much about it, but I’ve always struggled with social relations. I mean, I was never at ease in big groups of friends and always covered my being shy pretending I didn’t like people.
First snowboarding, then surfing, helped me get out of my shell and somehow get the courage to open up to people and show myself for who I am. My main motto was (and still is): “if I can tame the waves, I can surely go speak to this or that person!”
I would say surfing gave me courage to face life’s problems and jump into the unknown, like taking off on a steep wave.
HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE A WOMAN IN THE WATER TODAY? DO YOU HAVE A DIFFERENT RELATIONSHIP WITH MALE SURFERS? HAS THIS RELATIONSHIP EVOLVED (with your habit, progression)?
When I first started surfing in Italy I was one of the very few women in the water. While I enjoyed being seen as reckless “for a woman” (!!), I’ve always had the feeling the other male surfers were underestimating me. I remember one day a guy dropped in my wave because he thought I couldn’t catch it… and then he tried to explain me why he was right!
It was at that moment that I decided to create Surfragette, a blog dedicated to sharing my passion with other surfer-girls around the world.
Luckily the surf scene has changed from ten years ago. Now there are more and more women in the lineup. Many of them totally rip and can give their fellow male surfers a run for their money.
We are finally seen as just “surfers” instead of “surfer-girls”.
WHO ARE YOUR ROLE MODELS IN SURFING?
I don’t have particular role models in surfing. Of course, I watch old and new surf movies for inspiration, but I guess I prefer getting inspired by the women I see everyday in the water. Those who are out there surfing the winter swells, when it’s so cold and your hands are so swollen you can’t take off your wetsuit after the session. Those who surf at 6 am and then get dressed to go to work afterwards. Those who don’t care about the latest bikini or wetsuit model and wear their gear until it has got holes in it…
WHY ARE YOU TRYING TO BRING SURFING IN THE FOREFRONT TODAY?
I don’t think surfing needs to be brought to the forefront today. Everyone talks about surfing, or has a friend or a cousin who surfs, every ad has got a surfer in it and overall it seems surfing is the latest trend in sports.
I think the role I want to play is to bring back a bit of authenticity to it. To tell the new generations of surfer-girls that having fun in the water is more important than wearing the newest bikini model at the beach, or taking selfies surfboard under their arm, instead of actually surfing.
Don’t get me wrong, I love taking beautiful pictures and if you go on my Instagram page @surfragette you’ll see plenty of them - but I’d like to tell these girls that it’s more important to be who they are, instead of acting the “surfer-girl style”, without actually surfing.
Another important topic I feel we need to talk about more is the environmental cause. I often deal with it in my posts. Nowadays we all know the importance to fight against pollution to protect our planet. As surfers it is our duty to commit to the cause, if we want to preserve what we love the most and keep enjoying our playground.
WHO WOULD YOU DREAM OF SEEING AT YOUR PLACE TO TELL ABOUT HER FIRST WAVE?
Why don’t YOU tell me about your first wave? ;)
WHAT MESSAGE WOULD YOU LIKE TO CONVEY TO YOUNG AND LESS YOUNG WOMEN WHO WOULD LIKE TO TAKE THEIR FIRST WAVE?
Just go for it! It can be scary, it can be frustrating, and most of the times you will think you can’t make it. But someday you will and it’ll be one of the best feelings in the world and totally worth all the sweat and falls. I believe in you and you should totally too!
If you want to share your story with us, send it to us at this email address: firstname.lastname@example.org