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Tiara is one of a hand­ful of fe­male surfers on her is­land, which has re­cently been dev­as­tated by Hur­ri­cane Irma

Surf Girl - - Contents -

Igot into surf­ing at a young age be­cause my dad is a surfer and he took my broth­ers and I to the beach all the time and taught us all how to surf. There wasn’t a spe­cific rea­son to why I be­gan surf­ing, but my dad was the one who in­spired me to con­tinue surf­ing all the time. My older brother is an amaz­ing surfer and I have al­ways looked up to him both in life and as a surfer. I was never really con­fi­dent in my abil­i­ties as a surfer when I was younger, be­cause I felt that I needed to be as good as my brother. I guess not hav­ing a lot of con­fi­dence in my­self was the big­gest ob­sta­cle that I have had to over­come, but I’ve just kept surf­ing, be­lieved in my­self and en­joyed the sport by try­ing to re­move the pres­sure I put on my­self.

In the Bri­tish Vir­gin Is­lands it is hard be­ing a fe­male surfer be­cause there aren’t many of us and ex­po­sure is very min­i­mal. Dur­ing the win­ter months surfers from all over the world come surf­ing here, but the ac­tual surf­ing com­mu­nity is pretty small and grow­ing up there were only a hand­ful of fe­male surfers.

Now there’s a great move­ment in women’s surf­ing, with more women be­ing en­cour­aged to take up the sport, but I feel there needs to be a shift in the way the surf­ing me­dia and brands mar­ket fe­male surfers. There are women from all over the world, who are dif­fer­ent colours and from dif­fer­ent cul­tures and back­grounds, who – just like me – love the ocean and the feel­ing that wave rid­ing gives us. Sadly they are rarely shown in the me­dia but we are out there, just wait­ing to be dis­cov­ered.

Surf­ing is part of who I am; it’s my iden­tity and part of my whole life ex­pe­ri­ence. This sport has given me the great­est op­por­tu­ni­ties to meet new peo­ple and make friends – some of whom have be­come like my fam­ily. It has given me some of the best ex­pe­ri­ences of my life and for that I am truly grate­ful. I just hope more women like me take up the sport and get the recog­ni­tion they de­serve.

Since Tiara wrote this piece for Sur­fGirl, Hur­ri­cane Irma has dev­as­tated her is­land and we have in­cluded an up­date on Tiara’s sit­u­a­tion now.

Hur­ri­cane Irma was one of the scari­est events that I have ex­pe­ri­enced in my life. Me, my fam­ily and the en­tire is­land knew what was com­ing but to be hon­est, it was a lot more than any­one ex­pected. The hur­ri­cane didn’t have too much of an im­pact on my fam­ily and I, we only lost win­dows and all three of us are liv­ing in one room but luck­ily we still have a place to live and a roof over our heads. Many peo­ple on the is­land and peo­ple that I’ve known my en­tire life lost ev­ery­thing.

In less than 24 hours, an is­land that was filled with green and beauty was turned brown and ugly. Irma af­fected the na­ture, the econ­omy and the lifestyle of the BVI. Al­most ev­ery­thing that the com­mu­nity de­pended on to sur­vive was de­stroyed. One of the a main in­comes for the BVI is through tourism. Tourists come here to go to the beach, go sail­ing and div­ing, and just to ex­pe­ri­ence the Caribbean but this can’t hap­pen now. The boats, the beaches and the ex­pe­ri­ences have been dec­i­mated, which will leave us in a lot of eco­nomic dif­fi­culty and make the process of get­ting back on our feet much harder and longer. Many peo­ple have had to leave be­cause they have no more jobs or they can’t send their kids to school any­more. Irma ab­so­lutely ripped us apart.

Many peo­ple who were part of the surf com­mu­nity were the ones who left the is­land. So far, I have only gone to one of the beaches on the is­land and it has been com­pletely de­stroyed. Much of the de­bris from the build­ings that ended up on the beach has now washed into the wa­ter. Sadly, many of the surfers who come for the sea­son will no longer be able to surf and what al­ready felt like a small surf com­mu­nity has got even smaller.

How­ever, after speak­ing to peo­ple on the is­land the com­mon feel­ing is that we are all thank­ful to be alive. No mat­ter the dam­ages and the ma­te­rial things lost, we are alive and that is what mat­ters most.

Name: Tiara Jones Age: 18 Stance: Goofy Location: Tor­tola, Bri­tish Vir­gin Is­lands Years surf­ing: 14

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