Surfs up! Meet the blonde-bombshell from North-Narrabeen who is going to blow everyone out of the water at the upcoming Hurley Australian Open. Steph Nash reports.
For a lot of young twenty-somethings, travelling goes hand-in-hand with a string of student loans, large, smelly backpacks, and priceless memories that are tainted with alcohol.
But for Laura, travelling is more than just a pastime. It’s a career, an outlet and a way of life.
It took about two weeks for us to get in contact with surfing world champion, Laura Enever. It seems that WIFI is yet to be rolled out in Micronesia, as we struggled to reach the athlete who was on a transnational surfing adventure.
Whilst the rest of us struggle to comprehend the idea of surfing in China, Laura can boast a whole atlas’ worth of surfing stories that have been for both work and pleasure.
“I love travelling so much – I think the older I get, the more I get the travel bug,” she says.
“I’ve been travelling and competing since I was 12. Now I’m 23, I can travel independently and just go where I want to go”.
Her favourite spots? Brazil, Europe (yes, all of it) and the casual trip to New York City, just to ‘mix it up’. Whilst on tour, her travel crew is a mixture of family, friends and competitors. This usually includes a group of surfing greats, such as her famous ‘older brothers’, Joel Parkinson and Taj Burrows.
Having competed at a professional level for around eleven years, world championships and open titles are just another day at work for Laura. She became the Association of Surfing Professionals’ Women’s Junior Champion in 2009, and by 2010 she was ranked world no. 2.
But for a while after that, Laura had mysteriously dropped off the radar. After sliding fifty world ranks in under a year, it seemed the pressure of a professional career was becoming too much, and her love for surfing began to wane.
“I had competed since I was 12 years old – everything had happened really fast,” she says.
“I went on to the pro-junior series, and I was doing so many events . . . I missed out on a lot of school and I was travelling so much. I made it on to the world tour when I was 18 years old, which is what everyone trains all their life for . . . and I started not really enjoying it”.
As a self-described ‘happy-go-lucky’ type, Laura never thought the pressures of professional sportsmanship would bring her down. But it eventually did, and it came down on her like a tonne of bricks.
“It just caught up with me, and I started not enjoying it anymore. As soon as that started happening, I thought: ‘Oh my gosh, I need to take a step back. I can’t not love what I’m doing, this is the best job in the world!’”.
After a fairly grey period, Laura returned with a vengeance to the surfing scene in 2012, taking out a strong eighth world ranking. The change? A reinvigorated love for her sport.
In an almost existential turn of events, discovering the waves of the world had reignited Laura’s passion f-or surfing. Travelling, it seemed, had really helped Laura to reinvent herself, and realise that the thrill of the waves was the only thing that mattered to her.
“Over the last four years I feel like I’ve grown, and I’ve really figured out who I am as a person. I feel like I’ve put myself in a good place, so I can really start making goals for myself,” she says.
“I feel like I can sacrifice more, and work harder and train harder, and I’m loving every minute of it. When I was in Micronesia, we surfed perfect waves for four days, and that was just surfing for the absolute pure love of it. So [I like to] do that in between, and really keep a good balance of things. That’s my key word in life – balance out everything”.
Born and bred in North-Narrabeen, the Northern Beaches surfer is too excited to compete in the Australian Open this month. She knows the water, has her own army of supporters, and can even sleep in her own bed.
“I’m so excited for the Australian Open. Everything’s going to feel really normal I think. All my family and friends are here, and they’re all excited to come down and watch me,” she says.
The surfing gene is certainly dominant in the Enever family – and it seems to be the same case for the entire Narabeen community. Laura describes her hometown as the perfect beach-bum suburb, full of surfers, swimmers and supportive families.
“Narrabeen is such a good area for kids to grow up. Everyone surfs together, and there are such fun waves everyday . . . Everyone from North-Narrabeen is like second-family – I have about 100 ‘older brothers’, and they’ve all taught me, pushed me and pulled me in to line,” she laughs.
So, what’s next for Laura Enever? Having improved exceptionally to a current ranking of world no. 5, the limits are endless. To supplement her career in surfing, she has a few gigs in modeling, after being scouted by her current sponsor Billabong in 2013.
It’s wonderfully reassuring to see women like Laura and her esteemed peers absolutely killing it in what was once such a male-dominated sport. Her drive and passion for her sport is inspiring, and she applauds the women in the industry for their resilience.
“I think surfing is in a really good place right now, I think [women have] found [their] own. We’ve turned a male-dominated sport in to something that can really be done by both . . . When I go surfing, there are just as many girls or if not more out in the line-up. The ocean is a place for everyone to share and ride waves together. And I think women’s surfing has just brought a whole new grace to the sport,” she says.
“To any young girls, I’d say enjoy it. To be able to go out on to the ocean every day is just a blessing in itself. That’s what I realised. Just enjoy it – enjoy the little things, enjoy riding waves. Anything’s possible really”.