Felicity Palmateer has ticked off a lot of goals in her 24 years. The professional surfer, artist and marine conservationist made history in 2015 by riding the largest-ever wave surfed by an Aussie woman. No mean feat when you’re looking down the barrel of a 30ft wave.
We sat down with the Braun and Billabong ambassador to find out how she stays at the top of her game, both in and out of the water.
You spend your days wearing a bikini and being photographed. How do you keep up your body confidence?
“I’d be lying if I said I was always confident. That is definitely not the case! But there are lots of little things that help. Exercise, healthy food, quality sleep and sunshine are essentials. If I stick to the basics, then I’m less likely to have doubts or guilt for over-indulging.”
What are the top beauty products you always take on the road with you?
“I’m a big believer in beauty having a lot to do with what you eat and drink. So wherever I am I always make sure that I have water with me. I love a fresh juice each day (Nudie is my favourite) and other healthy snacks, especially when I travel internationally because it can sometimes be hard to find the right foods to help me feel and look my best. The Braun Silk-epil 9 Skin Spa is another item that’s a travel must. I can achieve beautifully smooth skin from head to toe and with long lasting results.”
You set the record for the biggest wave surfed by an Australian woman. How do you mentally prepare for big-wave surfing?
“For me being mentally prepared for big wave surfing comes from me being physically prepared. I know if I’ve put in the effort in training then I can draw confidence from that. I do strength and conditioning work as well as breath training and I try to spend as much time in big surf as possible. The more you’re out in conditions like that, the more used to it you become.”
With that ticked off, what else would you like to achieve?
“I actually just achieved one! The World Surf League held the first ever women’s big wave world championship event at Peahi, Jaws on Maui in Hawaii in November last year. I got a call up to be in the event and ended up placing 3rd overall. I’d never surfed the location before so for me that was a massive achievement to paddle out there for the first time during the contest and catch a wave – it was about 30ft! So since then I’m sort of resetting my goals, training hard and preparing for big waves to be a regular part of what I do.”
You've been surfing for years. Do you think the sport is more accepting of women now, compared to when you first started?
“Women have always been a part of surfing. But when I was little I was often the only girl out in the lineup with my dad. But now it’s definitely common to see whole families enjoying the beach and surfing together. I’d also say the performance levels at the elite level of competition have risen steeply, especially in the past four to five years. Where once people might only be interested in the finals now there is a huge audience, which includes the male pro surfers, who watch and are genuinely interested right from round one. Plus, there are some great personalities and rivalries too. And the exotic locations … it’s pretty cool!”
What is the number one piece of advice you’d give to younger girls coming up through the ranks?
“I love seeing so many young girls enjoying the sport, and it doesn’t have to be all about competing, definitely not. On any given day, you are likely to see girls surfing with their dads, or with friends. The number one piece of advice I’d give to a girl is – if they are interested and haven’t tried it yet, just get out there. Pick some nice, easy conditions when you’re starting out. A surf school is a good place to start, they’ll help a lot, plus they’ll have a wetsuit and board to borrow if you need it. And if you’ve already started surfing, watch people who are better than you, try not to get in the way and practice, practice, practice. If you see me at the beach one day, be sure to come say hello, I’d love to meet you!”
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