Three of the world’s best female big wave surfers Bianca Valenti (San Francisco, U.S.A), Paige Alms (Maui, Hawaii) and Tammy-Lee Smith (Ballito, Durban) were in South Africa recently surfing tripping their way around the coast and while they didn’t get the huge swell they were hoping for they did have an inspiring session at Sunset and were inspired by a visit to the Waves-for-Change surf therapy group. The three friends have also become the first ladies to be invited to surf in the Rebel Sessions 2017, at Dungeons, Cape Town.
Inspired to ride giants:
Tammy-Lee Smith spent six years as a professional surfer on the world tour and it’s only in the last two years that she’s switched her focus to big wave surfing:
“I think I always wanted to surf big waves, the first time I paddled out at Sunset was when I was 19 with Ian and Holly Armstrong. I’ve always just liked hunting the barrel and I like surfing big waves cause I just really want to get a massive barrel like I’ve seen Bianca get at Puerto and Paige get at Jaws. So that’s just my main goal for surfing big waves and everyone does things in this life cause they enjoy it and they want a bit of purpose and that’s exactly why I surf big waves it gives me some purpose, it gives me some meaning.”
Inspiring the next generation:
Paige Alms became the first Big Wave Women’s World Champion in November 2016 after winning the inaugural event in 30 foot plus waves at Pe’ahi/Jaws on her home island of Maui, Hawaii.
“Growing up on Maui all of the guys that I grew up surfing with and my peers were all really supportive from the beginning. I never felt like I was the only, or one of the only few girls out there, it was always that I was just one of the crew. I was always getting phone calls from my buddies and it was like “come on you got to get out here”, and the Maui community has always been really supportive of everything I do and I really just think that everything that I’m doing now is just for the next generation growing up and especially for the kids back home. Whether you’re a man or a woman, when you’re out there chasing your dreams and riding giant waves, it doesn’t matter who you are”
Inspired by Waves-for-Change:
Bianca Valenti is renowned not just for charging huge Mavericks but also for her social conscience, and was visibly inspired by the day spent at Waves-for-Change, a surf therapy program that uses surfing and the ocean to assist children suffering from the trauma of living in impoverished, crime and drug riddled communities that are the legacy of apartheid South Africa.
“ It was a touching and inspiring experience, and I’m really impressed with the way they are showing the kids positive tools to use to identify their emotions and to make the right choices life and build self-esteem. It was actually so emotional that I really just wanted to cry sometimes, they’re just awesome.”