Belinda Baggs has been my surfing heroine since the early days when I was starting out. It’s her graceful and incredibly effortless technique on a log that has always made me grin. What can I say, I’m a sucker for a bit of girl power too, but can you blame me? She explores the world’s unnoticed pockets with her husband Adam and super cute son Rayson, while ever in love with nature, hungry to continue learning about our weird and wonderful Universe.
I would say that this curiosity fuels a surfer, because there’s no such thing as a wave that’s the same as another. The beauty about the ocean is that it teaches you not to make assumptions, to ‘not judge a book by its cover’ as they say. Surfers are constantly learning and bettering themselves, wave by wave. Looking at Belinda, I see how a deep connection with the ocean can ultimately teach you more about yourself.
As well as finding her ten-piggies-over peeling across a wave, you’ll also see her effortlessly body surfing, and riding some fun shorter things like an egg or fish, all in the spirit of discovering the polarity between different waves. To me, being humbled and intrigued by the world is the most respectable thing. That’s why I interviewed her to find out what ticks her boxes, because a lady who is never ok with knowing just enough should be admired.
So this month for the WATER issue of Suitcase magazine, I asked Bindy about life, water, smells, and travel. There’s lots more where this came from on new stands all over the world, or on their crispy website.
- What first brought you to the water?
My dad surfs, so I grew up with sand between my toes. It was a natural progression from the shore for me to begin surfing. As I became a teenager my bond with the ocean grew stronger and stronger. And when I finished school, surfing was the only thing I was sure of. With no commitments keeping me away I spent all of my days surfing and playing in the sea. The ocean became a spiritual guide and the waves became my best friend.
- Your surfing style is super graceful to say the least. When you’re on a wave, do you catch yourself in thoughts or totally living the moment?
Always in the moment… My style has never really been something that I’ve consciously thought about. There were always people I looked up to for their ability, I remember thinking about the manoeuvres I’d seen, trying to do it too, then one day someone told me they liked watching me surf… My style adapted naturally. To me the ocean and swells are so beautiful, riding a wave is an extension of that.
- The surfer’s vocabulary can be cryptic at best. Do you have your own words for different kinds of wave-y, surf-y things?
We do have our own lingo between friends, but unless you were an avid surfer no one would understand, mostly all jokes. My favourite was when we went to a small island in Africa and they didn’t know all of the ling so they made it up themselves an air was called “drying the fins” and for years they never even knew a word for surfing so they called it “riding the bar”!
- Where was the most unlikely place you’ve ever caught waves?
The most unlikely place I scored good waves was in Sardinia, Italy. My friend and I were due for an overseas adventure, and we loved nothing more than new and wonderful countries to explore. We sat down one day, span the globe, closed my eyes and pointed. My finger landed on Italy. After much research we learnt that Sardinia was our best chance for waves in the area. We packed our bags, landed in Rome, accidentally bumped into the coliseum jet lagged at 2 in the morning (which was one of the best tourist experiences of my life), and onto a ferry the next day. It was November so most of the summer tourists were long gone. The island was quiet, picturesque and offered an intricate and rich culture. Surfing was going to be a bonus…. The ocean was a spectacular shade of deep blue, and before our 1st week was through we had already surfed a great reef and 3 point breaks. We kept waiting for the ocean to go flat, but 3 weeks in and not a day went by that we didn’t have a good surf.
I guess that is one of e best things about traveling with a longboard; you can easily find a fun surf!
- Curry or cake?
Cake. Preferably vanilla with jam and sweet cream!
- When you travel, what are some other things you hunt for aside from waves?
Here in australia I’m surrounded by good waves, although it’s nice to head some that is almost guaranteed good surf like Indonesia, traveling for me has always been about experiencing different culture, different customs and beliefs and seeing the beauty of the world.
The more I’ve traveled the more true this statement has become. Now I feel that all of this travel and all the things; both good and bad that I’ve seen and experienced have moulded me into the person that I am today. The lessons and adventures from a full decade on the road have exposed a different way of both thinking and living.
- Describe your favorite sea creature (fictional or non fictional).
Whales…. Spiritual and peaceful.
- Left or right?
Right is a fav on a log, but there is something about a good left that just can’t be matched!
- What makes a break special to you?
Each landscape has a certain spirit and vibe; you connect with some, but not with others! For me a special place is an uncrowded one. Blue clear water, and peeling waves. Seizes and sunsets always heighten the beauty of any spot, but a place that still reaches out and grabs your heart in the middle of the day is truly a special one!
- What do you bring in your suitcase when you go on the road?
As little as possible! Staple items are- a bikini, Patagonia Houdini Jacket, small travel pillow, Ear Clear (to get water out of my ears), Surf Yogis sunscreen, canon 7D and 24mm lens, and a set of swim fins… Even if I’m not traveling to a surf destination you never know when you’ll find an unexpected wave- or just have to jump into the sea! Essential items for Rayson- cozy warm blanket, 1 familiar toy, colouring pencils and activity book, Patagonia Kids Capiline pants (they dry super quick), children’s Panadol (in case of fever, you don’t want to give your kids unfamiliar medicine )
- What are you riding at the moment? How does it feel?
I’ve been working on a longboard model with a good family friend Sean Nettleton. After a few changes to previous shapes he has shaped me a log that feels truly amazing. It’s a 9’4″ single fin, log style longboard. It’s heavy but somehow feel so lively on waves. This board has really opened up a new way of looking at longboarding for me; it’s always been about nose riding as that was what felt the best. After feeling the flow, speed and trim from this board I’m beginning to read waves differently, draw different lines and approach section differently. Free and easy, light and breezy!
- Your relationship with Patagonia has taken you to some amazing places. How do you think this has influenced your life?
I have always been environmentally conscious as result from loving the ocean, but after working with Patagonia their company ethics have really made me look deeper into my way of living.
They have sent me to some great places. And always with inspiring people. I think the people that are connected with the company are the most inspiring thing. From people who push you out of a comfort zone to people who take on what may seam like impossible enviromental challenges, then win. You begin to learn that if you set your mind to things, anything is possible.
In 96′ they sent the surf ambassadors on a aid mission in the mentawai Islands, of course morally it was great to help and appreciate my fortunate lifestyle. This is also the trip where I met Adam and that’s had the biggest impact on my life!
- To me you communicate a strong message of substance over matter. So what’s life like being a female surfer today?
A lot has changed in surfing since I began almost 20 years ago. As a grom I remember being the only girl in the line up on most occasions. Now it’s common for there to be more girls out than men, or at the least another girl or 2 out there with you
I actually don’t feel any different with more or less girls out there. Personally I’ve never really thought of surfing as female or male : Once you cross over the invisible line of the shore people are stripped of their social status when exposed to the humility of the ocean.
It doesn’t matter how much money you make, what position you hold at work, or even if your royalty, you either sink or swim so to speak, and that is based upon your natural ability, and connection with the sea.
- If you could make your own surf wax, what would it smell like?
I have made my own wax, and it smelt like coconut. Most wax contains petrochemicals. There are organic biodegradable waxes on the market but when we travel to areas where buying this type of wax is not an option we make our own out of bees wax, coconut oil and tree sap.
- What’s your approach to keeping your bikini on in the water?
I have a few tricks up my sleeve like tying it tight, selecting forgiving and functional styles but it’s mostly just knowing when it’s going to come off and stopping it before your left embarrassed! If I surfing waves of consequence then I’ll always wear a light wetsuit. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
- What does a typical weekend look like in your household?
We live in a holiday town, so the weekend is the most crowded time of the week to surf. We usually spend our weekends in the house, backyard or within walking distance. There’s a small beach break down the end of our street, so depending on the weather we walk around the rock pools, build sand castles, cook lots of yummy food and most importantly hang out together.
- Is there a surf film that gives you goosebumps?
Nathan Oldfield’s film Seaworthy. There are some beautiful shots but the most moving part is the music and the heartfelt narration.
- Tell us what makes you really really happy in life.
Hearing Raysons giggle and watching his big smile, The three of us are all playing together like big kids. Morning family snuggles in a warm cozy bed. Watching Rayson catch his first wave and Adam being a proud father! Those special surf sessions when all the elements line up, and ignite your soul.
/ The photograph below is from ‘On The Road with Rayson‘, a blog by cutest family ever Belinda Baggs, Adam & Rayson Kobayashi (with a little extra added on for fun) /
/ Mollusk Surf Shop’s film below, ‘Lost & Found’, by Tyler Manson featuring Bindy is everything I love about surfing. /
Pick up your copy of Suitcase Magazine now or go over to their website.