Not only does surfing take skill, it takes courage. Whenever she hits the water, professional surfer Bianca Valenti is hit with a rush of adrenaline, excitement, and reward. Big waves are her business and she spends each day training to tackle the deep blue sea. Most of the time, she’s the only woman out there.
“My drive for surfing big waves comes from a real strong love for the ocean,” she says. “It’s rewarding and it’s fun and it’s scary — there’s all these different components that just make me love it more and more.”
Valenti began surfing when she was seven years old and competing at nine years old, fearlessly catching waves with the boys because there were no girl divisions. Now, she is paving the way in Women’s Big Wave (which, btw, is defined as riding waves 20 ft and larger). In April 2014, she became the first ever champion of a woman’s big wave event, which took place as part of the Big Wave World Tour at Nelscott Reef, Oregon.
At the Pipeline Women’s Pro in 2015, she won the Best Wave award. “[It’s] pretty cool because Pipeline is the most famous surf spot in the world, and it’s like a big stadium for surfing, so it’s kind of like being in the World Cup,” Valenti says of the competition. Last year, she placed fourth in the Women’s Pe’ahi Challenge on the Women’s Big Wave Tour.
But that’s not all. With initiatives like the Committee for Equity in Women’s Surfing, Valenti hopes to shift the tide for women in the sport, which often capitalizes off of sex appeal as opposed to skill. It takes strength and determination to succeed at surfing, and she hopes to see more women recognized for that.
“It’s a big thrill-seeking sport, huge adrenaline rushes, and it’s life and death,” she says. Watch the video above for her story, in her words, on what it’s like to ride that wave.