The sport of big wave surfing is one that takes a multitude of skills—mental and physical—that are earned through a lifetime of hard work, training, and guidance. When the WSL decided to introduce an all-female big wave event at the famed Jaws, there were just a handful of women who were in the running to be crowned champion. One of those was local Hawaiian Paige Alms, who promptly won the first two events. Born in Victoria, BC and transplanted to Hawaii, from a young age Paige was in tune with the ocean. More importantly, when she was ready to face down the incredible challenge that comes with surfing waves thirty plus feet, her shaper was there to mentor and guide her through the process.
Now, Alms is returning the favour. Just as Paige was a hungry grom eager to push her skills into the ocean, on the west coast of Vancouver Island, Mathea Olin is waiting in the wings. Olin, born and raised in Tofino, BC is beginning to make a name for herself on the Canadian surf scene as she makes her push for the Olympics in 2020 in Tokyo, Japan. Along with a strong crew of female and male surfers alike in Tofino’s unique scene to keep her motivated, Mathea has linked up with Paige to learn from the respected big wave charger to learn what it’s like to be a young woman coming up in the surf scene.
The two were recently up in Haida Gwaii, and while both had their lips sealed on what went down on the remote northern island, they had plenty to reflect on the value of the time spent together. “I am constantly learning and spending time with smart, fun kids. It keeps me feeling like a stoked grom”, says Paige.
While Mathea keeps Paige young and gives her a chance to give back to the younger generation, for Mathea, the time is invaluable. “I met Paige at nationals last year and we have been travelling together on trips now. She’s practically become my big sister and is one of my biggest inspirations.”
While Mathea is a big sister herself, having a role model in the water is important, having more than one in Tofino’s female-driven surf scene is especially a boost to Mathea. “Surrounding yourself with people like Paige is so important.” Mathea explains. “They inspire me to be the best person and bring the realness out in our sport”
While Paige spends most of her time in Hawaii and travelling the world, Tofino’s strong community keeps Mathea motivated and grounded as well, and the grit and dedication of the women in Tofino are especially impressive to her. Even a local Tofitian like Mathea is the first to point out the obvious truths: “Being a surfer in cold water takes so much dedicated—it really makes me proud of all the ladies out here.”
In the male dominated world of action sports, we often take for granted the value of mentorship, but it is not to be overlooked. Every great athlete, scholar, businessman or woman—you name it— has had a great mentor who came before them. Let’s hope we can continue to see the cycle of giving back to the younger generation continue to benefit our communities across the globe.
Beginning this Friday, Mathea and Paige will once again cross paths at the She Summits Adventure Film Festival, where Mathea will be giving a talk on her experience as one of Canada’s best, and youngest female surfers, and Paige’s newest film, PAIGE will be screen. Follow the link to enter for your chance to win tickets to this amazing event! –ML