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