Where are you from (or where are you now) and what's the female surf community like there?
Based in Byron bay and have always been blown away by the amount of women surfers there are in the area. It’s so refreshing. There is always such a unique vibe out in the water when there are more women splashing about. A lot more calm and welcoming. It's joy.
What a crazy couple of years it's been for the world. How did the pandemic disrupt any grand plans you may have had and if so, were you able to find any opportunities in amongst the madness?
Oh boy was it a wild and very strange two years. Something that most of us have never ever experienced. It grounded us and taught us to be extra grateful for our freedom. Freedom is a beautiful feeling but when its taken away, it can really get you down. I think the ones that were able to adapt and be accepting of this, did the best. I started my business Dela Collective which was meant to be mainly surf experiences in lush locations but obviously that wasn’t meant to happen yet so I decided to design some fun hats and that went well. Almost sold out. So if you’re looking for the comfiest peak around, go and have a look see ;)
Kirsty, you used to compete in South Africa. Tell us about life as a young female surfer in that neck of the woods...and how did you end up in Byron?
Growing up as a little surfer girl in Durban definitely wasn’t the easiest. It was obviously a super male dominant sport back then, I was lucky enough to have my dad encouraging me to get out there most of the time. It also wasn’t the safest of places for you to be on the beach all day on your own but we did. There was a pizza shop on the beach called slice n ice, I used to hang out there skating and surfing with the boys all day and when dusk approached parents would start arriving one after the next whistling at us to hurry up and get in the car.
It all started when Roxy approached me at the ripe old age of 13 and sent me around the world on a full surf journey. It was mentally and physically draining at times. I experienced some of my highest highs and lowest lows – super challenging, but oh so rewarding. For me, the most joyous thing in the universe is calm, and competing was chaotic for me. By the end of my competitive streak I actually lost love for surfing and my flame became dim – until teaching reignited the spark. I can genuinely say that I began to love surfing again when I started teaching. Teaching is where my heart is, and for that I am forever grateful.
Kirra, we haven't met yet! Give us the d-low on who you are and what you do..
I am a high school PDHPE teacher, with a passion for creating spaces that encourage learners to grow, imagine and learn new skills. I thrive on working in outdoor education settings, and with various life skills programs that aim to push everyone out of their comfort zones, connect to nature and live active healthy lifestyles. Surfing came to me later in life, after I had spent many years competitively in the Surf Life Saving scene and almost every other sport you can think of.
The ocean became my biggest teacher during my late teens, learning to let go of things you can’t control and mindfully focusing on just being in the moment. My love for travel, making new connections, experiencing culture, and surfing epic waves really gets me going. Living in Byron Bay, Kirsty and I find ourselves planning our next adventure, while loving each other and every minute in between.
And so how was your Mentawais trip this year??
WOW WOW. That place is pure magic. It's been a childhood dream of mine to go there and was never able to get there. I then felt the world coming back to “normal” and had this sudden urge to book it. I almost didn’t and Kirra ended up going, are you kidding!? Its been a dream of mine too. We are going!!!! Highlight was surfing perfect 3-4 foot Burger World on our own ending with a breathtaking sunset sipping on a bintang and chomping on a beng beng choccy (if you know, you know).
Our recent trip to Indonesia was one for the books, the first adventure post-Covid and we both had similiar ideas about what we wanted to seek out during the four weeks. To sum it up: plenty of culture, good food, music, new people and PUMPING WAVES were all on the agenda.
The plan was kept really simple...let’s not make one and go with the flow. However, locked in was the Mentawais Islands, staying at Pitstop Hill for 11 days and the forecast was looking good.
Meeting likeminded and inspiring souls like Ruby Southwell was a highlight, surfing till dark out the front of our accommodation having an absolute blast, yarning, and sharing waves.
What's your take on the flourishing of the women's surf industry we've all witnessed over the last few years?
It is so inspiring to watch all the wonderwomen kill it in the surfwear industry. Because let’s face it, they just get it. They get our bodies. It makes a massive difference putting on surfwear being made and designed by women. A woman freesurfer to keep your eye on is Ruby. She’s so beautiful in an out the water. Currently living amongst a local Mentawaian family and just living her absolute dream. Just like we should all be doing.
Any future dreams or life goals now that the world has reopened?
My future life goal is to have these surf experiences thriving by next year when I hold my first one in New Zealand. The one after is going to be in Mozambique. Imagine driving to the beach through a nature reserve with elephants and giraffes. WHAAAAAT. Your mind will be blown. Its always such a special feeling seeing your homeland through someones else’s eyes. Just watching their hearts and eyeballs bursting with joy.
Tell us about your new venture Kirsty and how our community can support you..
WOOOHOOOO. March!!! Lets runaway to a lush new place that I am sure most of you have never been. I am holding my very first surf, stars and sail experience. Never been so excited in my life. New Zealands best kept secret.
I want to hold space for people that want to grow in their surfing but also to be surrounded and captured by nature. To help them overcome fear and teach them to be more comfortable in uncomfortable situations.
We will be:
- Surfing uncrowded lineups
- Video analysis for all the ones hungry to improve
- An introduction to breathwork
- Hiking to hot water springs
- Sail adventure around the island
And when the sun goes down, things get even better — stargazing in one of the worlds best night skies with a guided astronomer.
Style us out for the lineup, what would you have us wearing:
In this chilly weather I’ve been rocking the Atmosea Long Jane with a vest over the top. As it gets warmer, I'll be wearing the Salt Gypsy Betty Bottoms and the Crop Top. Both of these getups are the comfiest and stretchiest with the raddest colour options.
Favourite surf spot or destination:
This is such a hard question because every wave is so unique but I’m going to have to go with the full package. The people, the food, the music and zee culture. My pick will have to be Mozambique.
Words you live by:
Get comfortable with being uncomfortable
Some people are investments and some people are bills (read that again)
Top 10 essential (surf) travel items:
Your own pillow is a gamechanger
Share some love on your mates doing rad things:
Atmosea / Surfpaste / Weekday Goods / Wolfpack Leather / Lets Talk Mental Health Support / Lady Lords Surf Club