While we're anxiously waiting for this year's Mavericks to happen (the big-wave, one-day surfing competition will occur sometime between today and March 1), we talked to 28-year-old Bianca Valenti, San Francisco-based professional surfer and first female Big Wave World Tour champion, about beaches, women in the sport, and more.
How did you get into surfing?
My mom saw how much fun I was having at Doheny Beach standing up on my boogie board. I was only 7, but she got me into surfing. Mark Ellis made my very first custom board for me when I was only 8!
NorCal or SoCal beaches?
Though I was raised in Dana Point, one of the reasons I now live up north is because of the raw waves. There’s no comparison about the beaches. Southern California beaches are very family-friendly and scenic. Up here, though, the beaches are raw and untouched. The water at Ocean Beach, for example, is cold, heavy, and filled with tons of swells. Up here, it’s for experts-only.
Suggestion for women who want to get into surfing?
It’s a male-dominated sport, so you’ve got to be thick-skinned. The cool part now is that there are a lot more women surfing now—especially compared to just a few years ago.
Tell us a bit more about WickrX Super Sessions:
WickrX Super Sessions, which isn’t a competition, is part of Mavericks and will showcase world’s best female big wave surfers. This will definitely help bring women into big-wave surfing.
Ocean Beach, Salt Creek, Strands.
Shade Sunscreen is one I really like. I always go for natural zinc or cocoa-based ones are great. They don’t harm the reefs when it washes off your skin.
Favorite surf movie?
Taylor Steele’s documentary Sipping Jetstreams. It really tells the story of surf culture well.