Starting to surf has turned her world upside down. She moved from secure and familiar Germany to Portugal where she fell in love with the place and the people.

Spending her time surfing, working, traveling and just figuring it all out.

How did you get into surf?

After graduating from school, I had my first solo trip to Australia, where I had my first surf experience. Though, I don't remember falling immediately in love with it back then. A year later, after returning to Germany, I booked another surf camp holiday. The cheapest option brought me to Portugal. It was never on my radar, but I honestly fell in love with the place, the people and the ocean. I kept coming back whenever I could until I finally decided to move to Portugal to surf every day. Best decision of my life. 

What do the words Women of the Wave mean to you?

When I hear the words, I immediately think of my girlfriends and I in the water together, having fun and cheering each other on. To me, it's about like-minded women who love the ocean, surfing and having a community to share that with.

What are the three things that you love about surfing?

Definitely more than three, but I love that it's so much fun from the very beginning, even when you can't properly stand on your board, and it just gives you such a rush. I love how the ocean teaches you many things about being calm, humble, patient and accepting. It's the place where I can switch off and be. 

Who is your surf inspiration?

There are so many amazing surfers who inspire me to get better, and I love watching and learning from everyone around me and having fun. 

What would be your advice to a rookie surfer/ someone who starts out in surf? 

Learn the rules and how to read the ocean; just sit and watch how other surfers behave in the water and ask someone about hazards and if it would be the right place for you to go to start surfing. You can always go to a local surf shop and get information about the right place to learn. This can take quite some time, but it is crucial because there are too many people out there who don't understand how dangerous it can be. Also, take out the big boards and foamies, you will catch more waves, learn more and have more fun, and that's what it all should be about. 

What barriers did you experience in surfing? 

I feel sometimes I miss out on the nicer waves because I don't like to fight for waves, which can be stressful, and I surf to relax. I wait for my turn but often get snaked or dropped in because others would think I'm a beginner just because I don't sit on the peak with 10 people who almost sit on each other's boards.

How do you think these barriers could be overcome?

A little bit more kindness would go a long way. If everyone took their turns and spoke to each other with respect, it would all be easier. I believe it's hard for men to understand that women are just different, also when it comes to surfing. And many of us don't like to compete all the time. 

What is your proudest moment that you remember in surfing? 

Every time I have done something that felt really good and precise, like a great drop or a good turn and someone saw and cheered me. It is always the same feeling, and it's amazing to be able to share the stoke! 

What changes has surfing brought into your life?

Surfing changed my life completely. It does rule my day-to-day; when I make plans or appointments, I always check the forecast first to see when I don't want to surf. I moved to another country to pursue surfing, left my home country's stable, secure environment and started a new life. It taught me so much and still does, and I couldn't be happier.

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Women of the Wave Stories - Saskya Hengstermann


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