Quick Chats: Sophie Leathers.
Interview by Luke Pleydon.
Photo: Lance Morgan.
Hey Soph! Tell us what you’ve been up to lately?
Just finished another semester at uni, now with one subject left – woohoo! If any boog legends need some graphic design work done, hit me up!
I’ve also just started at a new job in the field of my studies. The office is pretty close to one of my favourite waves too, so I’m keeping an eye on the forecast!
Boog wise I’ve just been getting amongst it as much as possible, mostly surfing new spots and pushing myself. I haven’t really been focussing on tricks or anything, just barrels at the moment!
I’ve been getting into freediving a fair bit too and absolutely loving it. It gives a whole new perspective of the ocean and it’s pretty epic to get yourself a feed. It’s different to boogin’ in the sense that you’re calm and moving slowly, but there’s still an epic rush when you’re fighting a cray out of its hole!
How does it feel, to (most of the time) be the only female bodyboarder in any line up you surf?
To be honest I’m usually the only female in the lineup at all, regardless of any surf craft. I’m definitely used to it and it doesn’t bother me much. I used to overthink it, but now I just see myself as another bodyboarder out there. The guys are super supportive in the surf, but I still have to work for it – which is good! I’m still getting used to the hustle in line-ups and owning my spot. Sometimes I overthink it and think that because my ability is less than the others, that maybe I’m wasting the waves. But that’s got nothing to do with being female, that’s just me overthinking and still building confidence.
After seeing some of your recent content, it looks to me like you’re top dog in at least the Australian side of female bodyboarding. What’s been pushing you to get amongst some of the heavier stuff lately?
The goals I’ve been setting for myself all involve some heavier breaks than what I’m used to and it’s epic to have a boyfriend who’s doing the same. Alex is so supportive and even though we’re both pushing ourselves he is always so calm, so it’s a good balance when I’m wigging out! We owe it all to Shackerman. He’s just been getting both of us outside of our comfort zones. I get pretty nervous out there, but as soon as I get a wave, regardless of the outcome, I just know I’m doing exactly what I want to be doing. I’m building more confidence bit by bit – with each wipeout! I’ve got one hell of a wipeout reel, that’s for sure! Instagram hasn’t seen the half of it – the good, the bad and the ugly!
Tell us the story behind this wave?
This particular session was pretty memorable. It was way more solid in the morning and I paddled out without knowing much about the wave or what I was in for. I remember seeing an empty coming through that was just insane! When I got out there it was so much bigger and heavier than I thought. To me it was pretty rogue and wild out there. The biggest wave I got that day ended up coming straight to me and everyone else was out of position, so I just turned and airdropped into it late and somehow slid into a second of barrel vision. Then I got sucked up and over and dragged along the reef.
This photo came from the afternoon, where it was glassy, perfect lighting and a lot smaller. I took off on this one with much more confidence coming from the morning session. But as I was tracking through the pit, the shockey hit me so hard in the face. The next thing I knew I was pushed face first into the reef and my legs going up over my head. I was so winded when I came up and was trying to yell out to Alex for help but could hardly breathe haha! I copped another few on the head before paddling to the side line with my tail between my legs; humbled to say the least.
Who are some of the local guys and gals who inspire you and push you in the water?
There’s been a few sessions earlier in the year where I watched some of the guys absolutely sending it! Those days were so inspiring. Ackerman, Finlay, Ostler, Sawyer, Chapple, Moth, AJ, just to name a few! All just doing it for the love and pushing themselves.
I’ve had a session or two with Summa Longbottom, which was epic to see her sending it. Biggest love to Rio Clark in West Oz! We’ve been working on Women of the Waves together and always updating each other on our goals and progress. She has a lot more experience than me, so it’s epic to get her opinion and guidance.
Then there’s Papa Surf, my dad, who has the biggest froth-o-metre! We always ring each other after a fun session and share the stoke.
You’ve been giving it a solid nudge in your free surfing, do you think you’ll ever give competing a crack again? Even just at local level?
Never say never! It’s just not where my interest lies at the moment. I love to catch up with the other chicks and get a few waves, but right now I’m just working on achieving my goals. Camping, diving and getting some waves with a few mates is what makes me the happiest.
Finally, what’s some things you want to tick off your Boogin bucket list? Any trips you’d love to do?
South Oz is definitely on the list!
I’d love to get back to Margaret River too. I had such a great week there with Hardy a few years back and I’d love to have another crack at some of the waves that flogged me last time.
Other than that there’s still a lot of waves along the coast here that I’ve got on my list. Either to surf for the first time or to get redemption!