At the age of 14, Las Olas surf coach, Sara Taylor, was a bright star on the competitive surf scene. By 17, she made the national team for juniors, consistently ranking in the Top 5 for women under 18.
When she turned pro, it looked like an amazing career ahead, but along the way she pulled back and rethought competitive surfing.
Fast forward, she’s back and competing in Bartolo, Peru for the Rip Curl Women’s Pro, March 20th – 23rd.
I had a chance to talk with her before her journey to South America. Why did she reconsider? What are her thoughts about competing today?
Want to cheer Sarah on? Visit the Las Olas FB page and leave a comment.
See you in the waves,
Bev: You are one amazing surfer. I think your easy going attitude helps. You’re focused, but humble.
Sara: Well thanks, that means a lot.
When and where is your next competition?
I’m going to Bartolo, Peru for the Rip Curl Women’s Pro, March 20th – 23rd.
So let’s back up. You quit the pro circuit at 21 and you didn’t start competing again until recently. What made you stop?
I wasn’t having fun. As much as I loved competing, traveling, and the lifestyle, I really wasn’t enjoying it. I was doing well, but was constantly saving money to travel, working odd jobs, and wasn’t getting much support from sponsors. It was no fun.
Did you have help supporting your tour?
Well, I was sponsored by Roxy, but was only getting clothes and wetsuits from that sponsorship. I really appreciated the wetsuits, but most of the women’s budget (the money) went to the models, not the surfers.
Isn’t that the same for pro men? Nah, don’t answer that.
OK, so you stepped away from competitive surfing. Then what happened?
I found myself watching. I watched surf competitions constantly. I learned a lot, but I’d see someone doing a trick and say, I can do that. Then I’d watch some more. After about a year, I decided to stop watching and get back into it.
What do you like most about competing?
I enjoy traveling and love the comradarie of the women who compete. I’ve made good friends, and often stay at the homes of local competitors. It’s great to pool travel expenses and it’s fun.
So the pro men get the money, but the women have great pajama parties?
Yeah, something like that.
I know you support yourself with part-time jobs. What’s the weirdest job you had to support your surfing?
I sold Christmas trees. It was hard work.
How do you train for competition?
I think the best way to train for anything is to do more of it. This past week I’ve surfed twice a day, I’ve actually surfed seven times in the last week. I surf a lot.
Do you practice any rituals before you compete? Are you superstitious? Do you carry a rabbit’s foot or anything like that?
No, not really, but on the morning of a competition, I always wake up before my alarm.
So what inspires you?
I’m inspired seeing Las Olas guests catch their first waves. Seeing how much fun they bring to surfing really inspires me.
Do they inspire you to compete?
Yes, they do.
Sweet! Besides thanking the Las Olas guests for their inspiration, anyone you’d like to send a shout out to?
I’d like to thank Huntington Surf & Sport. They’ve supported me since I was 14 years old.
We wish you all the best in Peru. We’ll be cheering from the beach here in Mexico!
Born on Independence Day, Sara Taylor is a lone female surfer supporting herself on the ASP tour. When not on the road, she’s a favorite surf coach at Las Olas Surf Safaris. She sports wild, wash-and-wear hair and the confidence to drink tap water in Mexico. See Sara in action on the Jetty Girl blog here.
Special thanks to Chris Grant at Jetty Girl online surf magazine for his amazing shot of Sara off the lip and his support of women’s surfing overall.
If you’d like to follow the surf contest in Peru, follow this link: Rip Curl Women’s Pro San Bartolo
Want to cheer Sara? Visit the Las Olas Facebook page and leave a shout out.