One For The Mothers - Especially Those As Grand As Noela

An unbeatable bond of family 
We interviewed Tia (18) and her Grandmother Noela (75)

Their relationship is one that nourishes nothing but love and respect, both for each other and for their shared passion of surfing.

Surfing together must be incredibly bonding How has this helped nourish your relationship?
“It’s never a given that your family will follow your passion but we have been lucky. Surfing with my only Grand Daughter is something I never imagined years ago - We have great love and respect for each other in and out of the water.  I love that Tia, my three sons and four Grandsons are not at all embarrassed when I surf with them. It’s comforting to realise that you have done something good along the way when it comes to all of them.”

“The fact that I can just swing my 75 year old grandma a text in the morning and tell her to come for a surf; like I would with anyone else, really says it all. 

I know a lot of people can’t do the same and I am often reminded of that, which makes me feel so incredibly grateful to be able to share these special moments with her, as well as the rest of my family."

How has surfing as a practice helped shape your life? 
“Surfing has opened up many opportunities to meet different people from all over Australia and Overseas. I have an amazing group of friends, men and women, who are like-minded about exercise, health and family values. We have each others back in and out of the water. Surfing keeps me fit, healthy, happy and balanced. It’s not the only thing I do with my time but it’s on top of the list.”

"Surfing is a lifestyle, social sport and an exercise that keeps me grounded in my favourite part of nature - the ocean. It can be humbling, thrilling, calming, disappointing, exciting, refreshing, scary, easy, challenging, fun and exhilarating. But that’s life, and that’s what surfing has taught me.“

What age did you start surfing and why?
“1962 when I was 14 years old and this is funny - I was allowed to go to the Movies and The Gidget Movie with Deborah Whalley was playing. It’s about a young girl learning to surf in California. I was absolutely gob smacked by the surfing and went home and told my father I wanted to learn to surf. The beginning of a lifestyle I cherish.”

“I’ve been surfing, honestly since before I could remember. Dad would’ve had me on a board from the age or 2 or 3, no doubt. After a couple years of tandem with mum and dad, they bought me my very own foamie for my 5th birthday. 

I started because of my family - there’s a good chance I wouldn’t know what surfing is without them. Being brought up with parents, grandparents, uncles, cousins and siblings that surf, I kinda had no choice. But that, I wouldn’t change for the world. My brother has definitely been my biggest inspiration in surfing and who I’ve always looked up to, style wise (I’d never tell him that though).”

What Craft did you ride when you started and how did you afford it?
“I had to sell my two Horses to help pay for a 10 ft Gordon and Woods Surfboard. I wore the nose off it because I couldn’t carry it , it was so heavy. No leg ropes or wetsuits those days either…”

“Not long after mum and dad gifted me the foamie (which I think was like 6ft), I was begging for a longer fibreglass board. Mainly so I could copy what my brother was doing hahaha. Dad shaped me an 8fter and drew flowers all over it - I was so stoked and felt sooo legit. Dad then shaped me a proper 9’1” log for my 12th birthday and my surfing improved so much. Mitch picked me up as a team rider a couple years later and the rest is history. Thanks dad haha”

What is your all - time best memory or experience in the water?
“I have two really good memories.  The first was when I was competing in the Pro Am Malfunction at Snapper in 1996 - I was 48 years old and a Grandmother already. The surf was challenging and so were the other competitors. I came Third in that comp and was very proud of myself. I really had to find an inner strength to do that. The other great experience was when I surfed in PNG. The surf is tricky and reefs everywhere which isn’t good when you have two Knee Replacements. One cut and I could be in a world of trouble. I did it three years in a row and I can look back at that and smile to myself. I did it…”

“It’s so hard to find a best memory amongst all the good ones. A win in a comp or landing something you’ve wanted to get for ages feels pretty good but surfing with the family on a nice day is far better. Being tandem with dad on his board back in my early days - We’d paddle onto some absolute pearla’s, he’d pull me up and hold onto me by the rashie or whatever I was wearing and all you’d hear is whistles and cheering from the top of the lineup to the very bottom.
Family, friends and people that have watched me grow up. I was such a little frother. These core memories still pop up in my dreams from time to time so they’ve got to be some of my best"

Happy Mother's Day to all out there -
Thank you for sharing yourself fully, loving us completely and nourishing us always.  

Thank you to Tia and Noela for sharing your story with us and to Samuel Fairbank for the imagery <3


Edited by
Sharlya Porter