big wave surfer
Comfortable Doesn't Go Big
Bianca Valenti makes a habit of punching above her weight. At just over 5 feet tall she surfs the biggest, most advanced waves in the world including Mavericks in Half Moon Bay, California and Peahi in Hawaii.
Her hometown is San Francisco where she’s one of the few locals who regularly surfs Ocean Beach when the waves are over 15 feet. On those days the paddle out alone is a grueling journey through riptides, churning white water and overhead swells that can take up to 40 minutes.
She prepares religiously for these physical challenges with intense cross training and breathing exercises. She can stay underwater for minutes at a time. But Bianca faces other challenges that can’t be overcome with grit or disciplined training saying, “the toughest challenge for women is finding that camaraderie. Many times I’m the only woman out in the lineup."
Women are accepted, even admired, in the big wave surfing world but don’t have their own professional tour, aren’t included in the widely publicized Titans of Mavericks Invitational and are rarely sponsored.
Bianca and her peers are changing that. They formed a group last year called SuperSessions with the mission to “inspire human greatness through women’s big wave surfing.” One woman in the group, Savannah Shaughnessy, was just named as an alternate in the Mavericks competition, a first for female surfers. It’s a step, but the battle to compete fairly is far from over. For now, Bianca and the other women fly largely under the mainstream radar, paying their own way to chase the biggest waves in the world.
Don't Get Comfortable
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