Hi Tia! Thanks for sharing with us. Would you tell us a little bit about yourself to start?
Hey, I’m Tia. I’m 16 years old and currently in grade 11 at highschool. When I’m not juggling my studies and part time job, I’m surfing. I have lived and surfed on the Sunny Coast, Australia, all my life. My local surf spot is The Bluff at Alexandra Headland and always has been, ever since my very first wave at 4 years of age.
When and how did you get into surfing?
The opportunity to surf was given to me by my family who spent every spare moment at the beach, surfing together. My grandad, Barry who is now 77, has been surfing the bluff and surrounding areas since his early teens, when the coastline was simply cow paddocks, with the occasional shack here and there. He and my grandma, Noela (nanny), then passed their love of surfing onto my dad, Drew and his 2 brothers, Damian and Luke, who also encouraged myself, my brothers and my cousins to get on a board from a very early age. Mum, who also loves longboarding, surfed during her pregnancies and believes that this is part of the reason why surfing is in our blood.
From left to right: 10 month old Tia at Double Island point, 2 year old at Maroochydore beach, at age 4 surfing with her mum at the Bluff.
My first real memories of surfing are paddling out on the front of dad’s board and surfing tandem with him. When he paddled us onto waves, he would pull me up and hold me by the rashie or wetsuit so I didn’t fall off. He wasn’t bothered about wave size either, we used to paddle into 3-4 footers which freaked me out a bit, but I loved surfing, especially being cheered on by the local Bluff crew I grew up with.
By the age of 5, I was catching waves on my own 6ft foamie until I turned 8 and got my first fibreglass board, which was a 7’6 mini mal (a longboard for me). My first fibreglass board made me feel like a legit surfer. I always tried to copy my brother’s style and manoeuvres which I thought were so cool.
Tia's Nanny age 16, at "Pipes" Maroochydore, 1964. Nanny and Grandad at The Bluff 2019, age 70 and 74.
Once I got more control of a bigger board, dad decided it was time to get me a real 9-footer, which he and I shaped for my 10th birthday. It was 9’1 with a blue glassed in fin and rainbow paisley inlay on the deck. Although I loved that board so much, my biggest aspiration was to have my own surfboard sponsor, and when my brother, Cale was quickly picked up by MS Surfboards at 12 years old, it inspired me big time. So I started trying new things and finding my style and eventually I was riding for MS too.
I’m so so grateful for the opportunities and experiences surfing has brought me. It truly brings me so much peace and happiness, especially long boarding.
What’s it like for you living in the Sunny Coast? What’s your favourite thing about living here?
From what I can remember, 10 people in the water on a good day was considered a crowd, even if majority was my family. Now I paddle out at the bluff and sit amongst 30-40 people on an average day. I love the Sunny Coast for its friendly surf community and abundant surf breaks we can still enjoy, despite the crowds. I’ve been lucky enough to stay at the lighthouse cottages at Double Island Point pretty regularly since I was only little, and it always reminds me why I love the Sunshine Coast so much. Scoring the most magical surf in the bay every now and then with no one around. I’ll cherish those moments forever.
Can you tell us about your favorite surf spot?
The Bluff will always have a special place in my heart because of all memories I have there, but I also love exploring and finding new and more secluded places to surf. A few of my favourite’s spots on the coast would have to be Double Island Point, Old Women Island and Northshore. I also love surfing at The Pass, Byron Bay and The Springs at Agnes Water.
What sort of tips would you recommend for someone keen on learning how to longboard?
I would say the most important thing for beginners is to find a break with conditions suitable to your ability, go for surfs regularly, be aware of other people in the water and most importantly, don’t hesitate to try new things.
What are your favorite Dkoko bikini designs and why?
My favourite Dkoko bikini is the Soul bottom and Radiance top in the colour freshwater and if I am surfing, I usually pair it with the Panga Drops rashguard to be a little more sun safe. The material is super soft and comfortable, and will absolutely not fall off in bigger surf! My favourite one-piece has to be the Rio Claro surf suit purely because I love the simple, yet feminine design and how it complements my body.
What are your plans for the future after you graduate next year?
I’m working towards graduating high school with a good result which will enable me to eventually study architecture and interior design in the future. Before that though, I have always dreamed of travelling Australia with a few friends. We don’t really have a plan as yet but we do know we’re going down south and following the coastline all the way to WA. If I get a little bit carried away with my travels and extend my gap year to 2 years, I would love to live and work at the snow in New Zealand for a winter season and explore the whole coast.
What do you love most about surfing?
It sounds cliché but surfing makes all my worries or whatever I’m stressed about disappear. It’s like a little getaway. Exams I haven’t studied for tomorrow. Go for a surf. Assignment due in 3 hours. Go for a surf. There really is so much to love about surfing. It makes you appreciate earth a little more. It can be adventurous, challenging, terrifying or exciting. But I especially love surfing because I get to do it with my family, and not many people can say that.
Watch the video of Tia surfing here.
Surfing photos from Lucia Santiago. Lifestyle photos by Tracy Naughton.
Thank you Tia for sharing your family photos with us!