Ainhoa, At only 17 She’s A Hell Of a Girls in Surf and Eco-Warrior Ambassador
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, I am so happy to share you the first waves stories of Ainhoa. This girl is an amazing surfer, and I love that she communicates us her passion for surfing and the ocean so well. At only 17, she's already committed for women performance in surfing and for protecting the environment and our dear oceans.
Big respect, great to see the rise of such inspiring girls in the new generation.
[Follow her on Instagram: @leiceaga_ainhoa]
HI AINHOA, COULD YOU INTRODUCE YOURSELF IN A FEW WORDS?
Hi, I'm 17 years old and I've been passionate about surfing since I started when I was 9 years old. So I've been combining surfing and studies since junior high and I'm currently in Terminale S (French Senior Year specialized in sciences) in Biarritz where I'm part of the Pôle Espoir. I am a girl from the Basque Country and the ocean has always been a playground for me. I am therefore committed on a daily basis to protect it as well as to take care of our environment in general.
Photo Credits: @fredericlecoq
WHAT IS YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH SURFING TODAY?
Surfing is actually pretty much my whole life haha! It's really part of my life balance, it's all about surfing. Going to the water is always a fun time, whether it's in competition, training or free surfing, it really allows to let myself go.
COULD YOU TELL US ABOUT THE MEMORIES YOU HAVE OF YOUR FIRST WAVE(S)?
My first waves I took them with a bodyboard bought in a supermarket in Hendaye with my grandparents and of course accompanied in my crazy adventures by my little sister, Sarah. I immediately loved the feeling of sliding and since that day, I really felt the desire to go back there every time we passed in front of the beach.
Regarding my first wave in surfing, that is to say, the first time I got up (it was still in Hendaye with my first "coach" Julien), the sensations were tenfold, I had more adrenaline on the wave, more excitement before getting up (in short: it made me more "afraid" and I loved it).
WHAT WERE YOUR MOTIVATIONS FOR STARTING SURFING?
At first, my small bodyboard was all I had to slide on. All I cared about was getting in the water and sliding, riding the waves, feeling the energy of the waves... and I wasn't going to settle for only a few trips to the beach with my grandparents. There were modest surfing lessons organised in the summer by the town of Urrugne so I took part in them (obviously), as soon as something could offer me the possibility to go to the water, I was there.
But these small opportunities were soon no longer enough to "satisfy" my desire to surf.
So we multiplied the lessons in surf school in the summer until it was winter… I had quite progressed and to continue to practice, my "coach" strongly advised me to take a license in a club, which I did, well accompanied by my parents who quickly understood that it had become a passion for me.
DID YOU HAVE ANY FEARS OR A-PRIORI ABOUT SURFING?
I wasn't scared at all or anything, just that little bit of adrenaline (especially when it was a bit bigger than usual), but as I said, it was that feeling I was looking for and I am still looking for. I didn't have any apriori towards surfing (it was much less mediatized, me and my family didn't know anything about it, I just know that I loved it), I had only one constant desire, at all times, whatever the forecasts: to go surfing.
Photo Credits: @damien_poullenot
As I mentioned previously, there was not much time between the moment I really desired surfing and the actual surf addiction. I didn't have the impression of going over a cliff; it happened naturally; we used to go to the beach when we were little and every time we passed in front of the ocean I really wanted to go into the water and rediscover the sensations. My parents didn't object and allowed me to have fun in the waves.
DID YOU HAVE ANY DISCOURAGING MOMENTS? WHAT MAKES YOU KEEP THE FAITH TO CONTINUE TO TRAIN AND PROGRESS IN THESE MOMENTS?
I had a few moments of discouragement, but only at the competition level, when the results were not there. The passion for surfing was still intact. I'm not one to give up, I always want to do better, to progress and I really love surfing, just, being in the ocean, so I didn't have to make any effort to continue. There are ups and downs and you have to deal with it, adapt to it as best you can.
The good moments and the passion overpass any discouragement
Photo Credits: @we__creative (Antoine Justes & Guillaume Arrieta)
Surfing brings joy and well-being to my daily life, it's my dose of pleasure, sensations, adrenaline. It allows me to get out of my routine, to escape. It helps me in my personal development in the sense that I practice my passion in nature, beautiful landscapes and I feel good there. My training also takes me to dream destinations and gives me the opportunity to expand my perspectives (and surf incredible waves); it's great.
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)?
In the water, frankly, there are sessions where I would almost prefer to be a man to be more considered and respected.
But by having a better level (when I get to be recognized), when the conditions require more commitment, (and you're almost the only girl in the water) relationships are much more respectful and pleasant.
As for me, I don't make any difference between men and women.
WHO ARE YOUR ROLE MODELS IN SURFING?
On the women's side, Carissa Moore; I think she's a very beautiful competitor with a good state of mind and with a power and surfing style that is unique among women.
On the men's side, of course, Kelly Slater for his longevity and management of the competition, and on the technical level I would say Italo Ferreira.
WHY ARE YOU TRYING TO BRING SURFING IN THE FOREFRONT TODAY?
I think it's a beautiful sport that maintains a close connection with the elements. This closeness can also make it easier to respect our environment. Moreover, the images I share on social networks (Instagram, Facebook...) and other media (newspapers...) as well as certain events allow me to highlight the female sports performance as well as my female partners.
Photo Credits : @fredericlecoq
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?
I would encourage them because surfing allows a strong connection with nature and no matter the level, it's always fun (even if it's a demanding sport).
If you want to share your story with us, send it to us at this email address: email@example.com