“I visited their local break and we surfed and talked story. I met up with three sisters, and it was incredible to hear that their mom was one of the first female surfers in Fiji, and they were carrying her passion into the next generation. There are a bunch of little girls that are a part of this surf club, and to witness these young women out there inspiring other girls to go surfing was amazing. The water is a place that’s known to be scary, and a lot of the girls say that it is an unsafe place where they sometimes don’t belong. But just being out there, having the opportunity to be in the water, it’s so healing and it can really reinforce positivity and confidence and growth in someone’s life.”
That principle holds true for surfing, no matter your age, background, ethnicity or gender. Time in the water changes life on land. For Brisa, the biggest change came during a session at huge Cloudbreak where she learnt to accept fear – and rather than run away from it, she harnessed it.
“At a certain point during 2020, I started going out to Cloudbreak. At first I tried to just focus on not going over the falls, then over time I’d just work through sessions focusing on different things. One session, the one you see in my new film Perspective, was big. And honestly, I was really scared. I had to go into this different mode of embracing the fear that I had, and rather than looking past It I had to accept it. Learning to do that allowed me to grow and be in that present moment, and not think too much about the future.
“You really need to listen to your instincts when you’re out there, because it’s unpredictable and raw and it’s in the middle of the ocean. When you’re out there, you have no idea what is coming. That wisdom, that stillness and acceptance and presence, it was really helpful to me. Fear is uncomfortable; but I learnt [at Cloudbreak] that when you accept that it’s real, it’s there, you’re willing to embrace it. You either stay uncomfortable or you grow.”
For Brisa, learning to confront her fears took her back on a path of reflection, back to her first year on the World Tour. In her new film Perspective she talks about fears from 2019 and the impact they had on her life. “I had a lot of fear in my rookie year… fear that I wasn’t staying true to myself. At that point in my life I spent so much time comparing myself to others and not embracing who I am, the journey that I am on. It was really hard. Everyone is on their own path and in my rookie year I fell off that path, I was a little lost in who I was.
“I think that’s the biggest thing, being a human being. We tend to let our ego get in the way and we leave the present moment, what’s at hand, what we can learn from the here and now. We think way too much about the future, and that’s what Cloudbreak brought to light to me. I know what I need to work on, and I need to embrace it and continue being true to that.”
As a competitive surfer Brisa’s drive and passion is to win events, but for her, the feeling she got from overcoming her fears at Cloudbreak was incomparable. “Overcoming that fear and obstacle in my life was an insane feeling. I’m still in the process of trying to conquer those fears, and I think it will be a never ending battle with myself, but it’s so big. Facing these types of things, it’s about finding who you are.
“For me, the ocean is somewhere that I can do that, that I connect with. It’s constantly changing, it can be scary and angry and beautiful. It mirrors who we are as humans, our emotions change and we are all so different, constantly changing. I think that’s why I connect with Cloudbreak and with the ocean, because it is ever-changing – and we have the power to be like that too. Somehow though, the ocean always seems to go back to being beautiful and still, that stillness is always there.”