Coming from a small village in the Austrian mountains, Maria left her familiar peaks for the vastness of the ocean. Now living in Portugal, she pursues her dream of riding the waves daily. Maria is currently working for a tech company which allows her to have a flexible work schedule and organise her days according to the waves. If you don't find her on the beach, in the skate park or in front of her computer, she is probably back in Austria hiking or skiing.
How did you get into surf?
Born and raised in the Austrian Alps, I saw the ocean for the first time when I was 19. I was on a train trip with my friends to celebrate my high school degree when we passed through Biarritz, France. I remember perfectly sitting on the beach for hours while staring at people riding waves. I couldn’t believe what I saw and knew I needed to try surfing. Three weeks later, I booked a trip to a surf camp in Portugal. When I caught my first wave, I was completely hooked. I will never forget that moment!
What do the words Women of the Wave mean to you?
To me, Women Of The Wave is about bold women of all ages and origins who inspire and support each other to push their boundaries and have fun while being connected to the ocean.
In my daily life, I really appreciate that surfing allows me to be present in the moment. When I enter the water, I can leave all my worries (and my phone!) on the shore, and the only thing that matters is the movement of the water. And this magic thing happens - every time I leave the water, I am in a better mood than when I entered.
When travelling, surfing allows me to discover unexplored corners of the world and connect with locals who share my passion. This makes me feel that I truly experience places instead of merely visiting them.
Overall, it enables me to get to know myself better and grow as an individual because it teaches me to believe in myself, constantly push my limits, and have fun!
Who is your surf inspiration?
I draw my inspiration from a lot of different women. Some famous names include Stephanie Gilmore, Kelia Moniz, Caity Simmers, Moana Jones Wong and Teresa Bonvalot, but also my friends who are either just getting started or already good surfers.
What would be your advice to a rookie surfer/ someone who starts out in surf?
Embrace every wipeout and “washing machine” as it brings you closer to your goal!
What barriers did you experience in surfing?
Generally, I believe that many guys think women can’t surf (especially when you look like a foreigner, like me). When I paddle into the line-up, I find myself surrounded by male surfers and feel like I need to prove myself before I “deserve” to be there. However, when I catch a good wave, and they see that I can stand on my board, it’s great to see their surprised faces. We need more female power in the water!
How do you think these barriers could be overcome?
As more women are getting into surfing these days, I feel it’s just a matter of time until we reach a gender balance in the water. It’s on every one of us to empower women to start surfing and be more open and welcoming in the water.
What is your proudest moment that you remember in surfing?
I had a lot of proud moments at each stage of my surf progression. Still, overall, I am the proudest and happiest when I enter the water, nervous and thinking that the waves are too big or powerful for me. And then, I still push myself to enter and get out with a huge smile.
It has really changed my life for the better. I am living my dream in a foreign country I am proud to call home now. I met my boyfriend and so many new friends in the water. It’s probably the best thing that happened to me in so many different aspects of my life.