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 happy to know more about Uhaina.
Remember our incredible Emmanuelle a few weeks ago? Well, her daughter also is a very talented pro-surfer, and at 19 years old only, she's collected a quite impressive number of medals. But that doesn't keep her from being a down-to-earth girl, who overcame her fear for sharks for the sake of surfing.
Here is her story.
[Follow her on Instagram: @uhaina_joly]
HI UHAINA, COULD YOU INTRODUCE YOURSELF IN A FEW WORDS?
Hi, I'm 19 and I am a professional surfer. I live on the Basque coast when I'm not traveling for WSL competitions.
I'm 4x French champion, 2016 world team champion, 2018 European team champion, 2018 Junior relay world vice-champion, 1st WQS Taiwan 2016.
WHAT IS YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH SURFING TODAY?
Surfing is definitely part of me and my life, it's a passion above all, it's something vital, which makes me happy and fulfilled.
COULD YOU TELL US ABOUT THE MEMORIES YOU HAVE OF YOUR FIRST WAVE(S)?
I remember my mother pushing me in the water. In fact, I have a lot of good and bad memories in the water...
I remember an incredible session when I was at Lakey Peak in Indonesia. That day, I don't know, I felt super comfortable as if everything was easy and I was surfing naturally without asking myself questions, it was one of my best surf sessions and most of all my best feeling.
WHAT WERE YOUR MOTIVATIONS FOR STARTING SURFING?
I started at a very young age. I grew up in the surfing world. I spent most of my childhood on the beach and in the water during the holidays.
Also my mother was still a competitor so I followed her to competitions all over the world. All of this made it a natural thing for me to get in the water and surf with my brother and mother.
DID YOU HAVE ANY FEARS OR A-PRIORI ABOUT SURFING?
I didn't really have a priori, but I had fears, especially in certain parts of the world. In Australia, I was often stung by bluebottles (jellyfish) which hurt a lot and to which I had allergies.
My biggest fear is sharks... Still in Australia, I was in the middle of a series when the shark alarm went off! We got out quickly because they had seen a 2m white shark, then they sent us back in the water only 30-40min later, I wasn't at all serene.
DID YOU HAVE ANY DISCOURAGING MOMENTS? WHAT MAKES YOU KEEP THE FAITH TO CONTINUE TO TRAIN AND PROGRESS IN THESE MOMENTS?
As in all sports. There are moments that are harder than others. But it remains a passion despite everything and the happiness of being in the water allows me to overcome these moments of discouragement. Sharing this passion with my relatives and friends strengthens my motivation.
WHAT DOES SURFING BRING TO YOUR DAILY LIFE? DOES SURFING PLAY A ROLE IN YOUR PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT?
Surfing has always been part of my daily life, this sport has taught me to be rigorous, to overcome my fears and limits and above all to discover new universes thanks to trips and people I have met on the water all over the world.
Doing sports in a natural element brings me a true well-being both physically and mentally. It is an environment that changes very quickly, which allows me to surpass myself and question myself on a daily basis.
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 was younger and less experienced, I felt a real pressure from male surfers, well, more like boys who were annoyed to see a girl surfing and taking waves they could have taken. But as time went by, I met other surfers in training or free surfing; then gradually I started to be respected. Today, when I'm on the water, nobody does my head in anymore. I’ve learned to be self-confident and to be respected… and I also know a lot of people on the water now who have become friends.
WHO ARE YOUR ROLE MODELS IN SURFING?
One of my favourite surfers is Stephanie Gilmore. I love her incredible style and her feminine surfing that remains super powerful and radical.
WHY ARE YOU TRYING TO BRING SURFING IN THE FOREFRONT TODAY?
It's also important for me to show girls that they also have a place in the world of sport and surfing, which was once a sport "reserved" for men.
WHO WOULD YOU DREAM OF SEEING AT YOUR PLACE TO TELL ABOUT HER FIRST WAVE?
WHAT MESSAGE WOULD YOU LIKE TO CONVEY TO YOUNG AND LESS YOUNG WOMEN WHO WOULD LIKE TO TAKE THEIR FIRST WAVE?
Don't be afraid to take the plunge, once you hit your first wave you won't regret it. It is a sport that allows you to discover new sensations and a certain freedom in a natural and unpredictable environment that allows you to clear your head and surpass yourself. It remains above all an individual sport but which can also be shared with friends!
If you want to share your story with us, send it to us at this email address: firstname.lastname@example.org