SurGirl got in touch with Sophia Bernard, the 20 year old surfer from Manly currently rising up the table on the WSL World Qualifying Series, to discuss what it’s like being a female surfer in 2016.
Sophia, how did you first get in to surfing?
I started surfing when I was 5 or 6 years old. I loved going to nippers at Manly beach every Sunday morning and surfing with my friends after. I really started to get into it when my parents bought me my first fibreglass surfboard. I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face for weeks. I actually still have it in my garage!!!
What was your first competition?
I think it was the Ocean and Earth Teenage Rampage in Newcastle when I was 13.
How is it being a competitive surfer?
Competing is fun and challenging. When people ask me about it, I describe it like a game of chess. There is a lot thinking and strategy involved. Although it is important to attain a greater score than your fellow competitors, I feel that competing is more of a mind game against yourself and the clock. I have learnt a lot about myself through competitive surfing.
And what’s it like being a female competitive surfer?
I think it’s a great time to be a female surfer. It’s inspiring to see that the women in the sport are constantly pushing the boundaries.
Who is your biggest influence?
My family. They have supported me during the highs and lows of my surfing career.
Do you have a favourite board and shaper?
All my boards shaped by Mike Psillakis are magic. My all-time favourite was from a year ago. It was a 5’8 hipster model – I was pretty upset when I snapped it in Tahiti.
Is there a wave that you would say is your favourite?
Hmmm best wave….. In terms of wave quality, Haapiti in Tahiti is amazing. I must admit that surfing my home break in Manly corner is always very special. No matter what the wave quality is like, I always have a smile on my face.
When you’re not surfing, what are you doing?
I am studying a Bachelor of Occupational Therapy at the Australian Catholic University part-time.