Born in the Netherlands and raised in Portugal, Charlotte was introduced to surf in her teen years. Now residing in Sagres, Portugal, she explores freedom of surfing, travelling around the country with her family and dog in search of the best break. In spite of her nomadic lifestyle, she’s created a circle of female friends who enjoy riding the waves together, being surrounded by nature, and supporting one another. 

How did you get into surf?

I first started surfing when I was 10, and my parents signed up my sister and me for a few lessons. However, I really got into it and started practising regularly only some years later.

What do the words Women of the Wave mean to you?

To me, Women Of The Wave is a movement. A movement of women who stand up for themselves and feel powerful and confident to face the waves. It's about a group of women supporting each other and sharing the happiness of surfing together!

What are the three things that you love about surfing?

The connection with the present moment, nature and yourself. Also, the lifestyle. Surfing makes me want to spend my time surrounded by nature, be and feel the healthiest way possible, and connect with like-minded people…Surfing gives me a positive vision of life!

Who is your surf inspiration?

I love Malia Manuel's approach. Her surfing is absolutely perfect, and her connection with the sport stands out most to me. Despite practising for so many years, she doesn't lose the feeling of it; it only becomes better. That's what a true surfer is to me.

What would be your advice to a rookie surfer/ someone who starts out in surf? 

Surfing can offer a lot to learn. You need to get the hang of so many little things. But surfing is mostly about feeling. Feeling the ocean and the way it moves. Surfing is dancing with the waves. Sometimes letting yourself go with the flow is what teaches you the most!

What barriers did you experience in surfing? 

There is constantly a new barrier in surfing, the next goal to achieve. Bigger waves, hollower waves, more radical turns, a better flow… That's why it keeps being so exciting.

How do you think these barriers could be overcome?

With confidence, focus, and the simple excitement that surfing and improving in it give us.

What is your proudest moment that you remember in surfing? 

My latest was in Madeira. The waves were giant, bigger than I had ever surfed. It looked just too perfect. I had no board tho, but my friend lent me one, and I was okay with just paddling out and sitting around. But in the end, I had an amazing session and got some awesome set waves.

What changes has surfing brought into your life?

Surfing brings me happiness and peace of mind every single day. It makes me understand life. Everything has its own pace in life; it is vital to flow with life and not rush it. Surfing has brought me my best friends, let me travel to the most incredible places and made me see life through another lens. It gave me my way of living and my priorities. Surfing makes me feel complete, healthy, positive and so appreciative of life!

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Women of the Wave Stories - Charlotte Van Berkum

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