Riding waves to her goals

Surfing into competition




Balance. Endurance. Focus. These are just a few of the things that surfers need to be successful in the water. And though she does not live in big surfing areas like  Australia or Hawaii, junior Erin Vaartjes, who has been ‘riding the waves’ for three years now, shares her passion for the sport.

Requiring an abundant amount of practice, Surfer Vaartjes explains what you can do during the off-season, just as these professionals must do while staying clear from upcoming surf contests.

“There is a lot more conditioning you have to do to be prepared for the waves, since you’re basically getting knocked down a whole bunch,” Vaartjes states, “since you have to hold your breath under sets of waves, you have to do a whole bunch of laps underwater, like a pool, to build your endurance.”

By keeping up with their overall health, including “eating healthy and having a good workout,” Vaartjes says it prepares us for our upcoming season.

Always finding herself by the ocean, Vaartjes says she has “always known and looked up to semi-pro surfers,” which inspired her to pursue the sport. Simon Hetrick, part of the World Surf League, is one of those she looks upon because of his “technique and execution of it all,” ultimately inspiring her.

According to the Orange County Register, the World Surf League, held in Australia, where hundreds of professional surfers come to compete for the globe to watch, has been announced to be cancelled, due to the outbreak of the coronavirus. Vaartjes expresses her disappointment for the cancellation, especially because she “won’t see some of [her] favorite surfers compete.”

In the future, Vaartjes aspires to accomplish her ‘dream-goal,’ which is to “surf at Pipeline, which is on the North Shore of Hawaii.” She states, “it’s just such a peaceful sport, so I’m really just trying to improve as much as I can and go with the flow to see where it takes me.”

Vaartjes says it was difficult at first, and beginners should make sure they start off with a bigger board, to help prevent injuries. By attending many wave pool classes and traveling to Assateague Island–where a semi-pro surfer taught her the ins and outs of surfing–she was able to master the skill.

Along with the peaceful element of the sport also comes the potentially dangerous side. Vaartjes speaks about the one head injury she got from a board coming down on her head, which “was scary, but it is also very common.”

However, the young surfer encourages people to get into surfing if they’re interested, stating “it’s the ultimate form of peace, and it’s so fun and really helps to get your mind off things.” She adds, “when you’re out there, everything else fades away. You don’t hear any noise and it’s really just you and the waves. Once you get on the wave, you’re just in your zone, and it’s truly the best feeling ever.”