Photography courtesy of Marta Tomasini.
There could be many titles suitable for Marta Tomasini, but Surfragette, which is also the name of her surf lifestyle blog, says it better than I can. Hearing people’s stories and sharing them always brings me great joy, but Marta’s strikes a very familiar chord with me. This lady longboarder surrounded by a sea of male surfers decided to do something about it, share her passion, and form a community. Here is a bit about Marta, her journey, and her big hopes and dreams.
Would you do us the honor of giving us a bit of background on yourself?
Hi everyone! The honor of being here is all mine! My name is Marta and I was born and raised in the North of Italy. Since I was I child, I spent my winter holidays in the Alps with my parents. I put on my first skis when I was just two, and when I grew up I couldn’t do without my snowboard! Five years ago I discovered surfing during a travel to Morocco. It was love, and when I went back in Italy I couldn’t help thinking about surfing! I really love Italy [for] its mountains, its welcoming blue sea, its warm people, but at a certain point, I decided I had to change something in my life. So, almost two years ago my boyfriend and I packed our stuff and headed to Biarritz, next to the ocean, to start a new chapter. I started Surfragette way before coming here. I actually started it the moment I fell in love with surfing.
After growing up as a self-proclaimed “snow bunny,” what was it like to fall in love with the ocean for the first time?
It was amazing and scaring at the same time! Sliding on a wave is one of the best feelings ever!!! It was easier for me since I was used to have a board under my feet, but I had to struggle with bad positioning. It was different than on a snowboard, and I discovered I had muscles in places I didn’t know they existed!!! I also had to overcome some big fears of mine, like – guess what – the fear of water itself!!! It was a new feeling, and after all these years I am still learning a lot about how to behave in the water or how to calm my nerves when I’m underwater. It’s a never-ending journey, but I always try to get the best out of it and learn more and more everyday.
When did Surfragette come to be, and how has it blossomed and developed as you have continued to pursue your passions?
Surfragette was born the moment I needed some other girls to share my passion with. When I started surfing, there were just a few surfer girls in the water in Italy, and it became harder and harder to find female pals to share stories with or just talk about my passion. So I started this blog. At the beginning it was more of a place where I shared everything I could find about female longboarding or classic surf and everything I was interested in. Over the time it evolved into something more personal. And even if I still struggle to write about myself, I understood it was important to share my experience in order to let other girls know that everything is possible. That’s why I often invite people to share their stories too. I could say Surfragette is now more of a community, and I love it! I also tell bits of my life and thoughts, and I love receiving messages from other girls sharing the same feelings I have and writing they now feel less alone. The idea of having made someone else smile is the best feeling ever, and when I’m down or moody about Surfragette, these people are the reason I keep on writing.
The name “Surfragette” is so clever, and it has a way of staying in my mind. What is the story behind it?
Oh thank you! I always thought it was hard for people to remember, but I never had the courage to change it. The thing is that when I started surfing in Italy, I was one of the few chicks in the water. Therefore, I found myself competing with the guys for the few Mediterranean waves at the local spot. No need to say that the most of the times they underestimated me, as I was “just a girl” and cut me off of the best waves or, worse, they’d let me go as you would with a kid. I couldn’t stand that and needed to prove that girls can surf as good as the men do, or at least some of them! So Surfragette was born: SURF + SUFFRAGETTE, the female movement for the equal rights in genders. Now things have changed a lot, and we can all say that girls are definitely proving how they rip it!
How would you describe a typical day in the life of Marta Tomasini?
I normally wake up around 7:00 AM, after the third alarm! I have a full-time job in the company that produces and sells Surfrider Foundation Europe’s clothing here in Biarritz. I am pretty lucky because I’m ten minutes far from the beach and my boss totally understands when the waves are good enough for me to come to the office a little late! I have a long lunch break, and if the weather is good I can spend it at the beach or I go catch a few waves before getting back to work. My work day usually ends at 5.30 PM, so during the long summer days I can go have a sunset session before dinner or gather some friends for the so French “apero, or “happy hour.” I work at Surfragette in the gaps between work and surf. That’s why it doesn’t come out as an everyday journal. But I hope to write more in the future and post as much interesting features as I can! So, overall it’s a relaxed kind of life. And even if I don’t always surf as much I’d love to, I feel pretty lucky to be where I am now.
If you could say one thing to bring a bit of encouragement to the world, what would it be?
Jump into the blue! Even if it scares you. The fear of the unknown is not to be compared to the fear of living a plain life. Adventure doesn’t come to you if you don’t chase it, and the chances that life has planned for you don’t come to you if you are not ready to welcome them your eyes closed. It’s not easy to embrace uncertainty, I know, mostly if you have something to lose. But if you trust your instinct, you’ll know what’s the best for you, and this will eventually pay off.
What is your favorite way of expressing yourself?
Apart from surfing, I would say creating. I like to create stuff and do things myself. I can be a little goofy sometimes and the house turns out a mess. But when I start a project, my boyfriend is really supportive and has learnt to pass over my chronic untidiness! You know, when you are behind a desk all day long, it feels liberating to do manual jobs, and when I see an ended project I feel totally satisfied.
When life throws you a lemon, what do you do with it?
I would definitely prepare a fruit cocktail and sip it watching the sunset on the beach!
What would you do if the word “impossible” never existed?
I am not the “modern gypsy” kind of surfer, so my dream wouldn’t be of living in a tree house on the beach, feeding myself of wild berries. If the word “impossible” never existed, I would love to have a simple, but comfort life without the need of working for a living. I would travel the globe, of course, surf the best waves of the world and get to know the people living in every country I visit.I would turn Surfragette into a magazine and make it my real job, so I could invest myself 100% in it and the people that read it. And I would also buy a huge house for all my family to live in next to me, so we can no longer be thousands of kilometres away from each other. Ok, I would do a lot of things!!!
How can people learn more about Surfragette?
They can read my blog! I am achieving more confidence talking about my personal life, and when I do it I know people appreciate it and are more open to do the same. And Surfragette is meant to be this: a place where people should feel free to share their stories, thoughts, experiences – a community for sea lovers ,where the only condition is to be yourself and learn from others.
Maddie Buresh is a writer and photographer with an unquenchable desire to explore the great outdoors, from the ocean to the mountains. She finds joy in trying new things, living in community, and crafting stories that encourage people to go outside, have adventures, and enjoy this big, beautiful world.