• • • Paige Hareb— The Kiwi born professional surfer talks with us about her origins, her upcoming quest to get into the 2020 Olympics and what the future of surfing looks like.

Hi Paige, I’d love to know how surfing has become your career and lifestyle?

My Dad surfed so I guess he was keen to get me into it. I first started surfing when I was about 6 years old. My parents got me into a lot of sport, which I loved and I was in a lot of regional rep teams for basketball, soccer, tennis, skiing etc.

I was in the NZ football academy and the Wanaka ski racing academy, so I thought I would end up trying to make one of those my career and even though I was winning surf contests I just thought of surfing as more of a ‘fun’ thing to do and not possibly be able to have a career out of it. But I kept doing well in surf contests, started picking up sponsors for it and it just kind of evolved from there.

I think surfing has taught me to be humble. Things in the water and in life can change in a split second, whether it’s good or bad.

And you’re hoping to qualify for the 2020 Japan Olympics. What is the process of going about this and what would it mean to you to represent NZ?

Yes, I’m really hoping to get to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics! I have three chances to qualify for it in the next 20 months. My main goal this year is to qualify for it through the WSL (World Surf League) World Championship Tour. I have to finish in the top 8 women but every country is only allowed to send two girls. For example, if the top 8 girls are all from America, then only two of them can go.

The 3rd and 4th girls would be ranked 9th and 10th and so on. So it could get down the ranking a fair bit. I’m currently ranked 16th but hoping to get a couple of good results over the rest of the year and get to Tokyo!

You travel all over the world to surf and a big issue at the moment in the surfing community has been trying to find a way to deal with plastic pollution. Has this been something you’ve noticed increasingly in your own experience?

I’ve been travelling for over ten years and I think this problem has always been there but people are only just realising that we actually should be doing something about it.

Bali has been improving from what I’ve seen compared to last year, which is pretty cool to see, but they and the rest of the world still have a long way to go. As a surfer being in the ocean every day, I think we are passionate about keeping our oceans clean and do feel like we need to help our environment and educate people in doing the same because every little bit does help!

You were the first woman from NZ to qualify for the championship tour in 2008! Congrats! How have you seen the profession evolve for female surfers over the past 10 years?

Thank you!

I think the surfing industry has changed quite a bit but I still think there are still people that can be sexist in the industry.

As a surfer being in the ocean every day I think we are passionate about keeping our oceans clean

The Future is Female

WSL is amazing though for giving women equal prize money and their CEO is now also a female which is pretty cool. We still have a bit to go I feel but it’s definitely improved so much in the last ten years. It’s good to see!

What are your hopes for women’s surfing for the next 10 years?

I’m not sure if women’s surfing will ever be completely equal skill-wise because men generally have a stronger physique. But

there are some amazing young girls and women getting into surfing and doing some pretty crazy and cool things. I think the women who surf have more room for improvement than men so that’s going to be pretty exciting to watch over the next few years!

What advice would you give to young women who want to make surfing their professional career?

Try and hard as you can,

be persistent, because practice makes perfect. But only do all of that if you’re having fun!

Don’t do it for your parents or anyone else. Do it for you and yourself!

• • • We are all amazed by Paige’s perseverance and wish her all the best with getting into the 2020 Olympics.

We can’t wait to see what the future has in store for this talented young woman.

July 04, 2019 — Janaya Wilkins