Twenty Three Years Young, Two Surfer Girls Pursuing Their Dreams October 07 2016
Costa Rica is the host of this week's WQS 3,000 point event, Playa Esterillos Este is the site. Already in its third day, both national and international surfers are competing for points to eventually gain a berth on the World Surfing Tour. The peaceful, laid back vibes of the Costa Rican south pacific town combined with a moody but powerful beach break is proving to be the perfect atmosphere for a surfing event of this level. The event was, however, cut a little short today due to the sighting of a crocodile in the mid-break, according to Bill Seitz, one of the WSL judges here. "It was handled really well," says Jeremy Saukel, another judge. "The best water patrol I've ever seen."
Recently we caught up with two surfers staying up the street from the contest at Hotel Pelicano, host of the World Surf League judges, their families and some of the competitors. Both surf girls are twenty three, goofy foot, with college degrees and both pursuing the same dream.
Brooke Daigneault of Huntington Beach, California and Kayla Durden of Jacksonville Beach, shared some time with us on a rainy lay day to talk about their year, the challenges of competing at a professional level, and what they love about Costa Rica.
Brooke and Kayla understand the healthy balance of competition and fun.
PVBG: Who are you here with and what do you think of the break?
Brooke: My Dad. I like it, it’s really fun. It’s a lot like home. I like it out front of Pelicans, actually.
Kayla: My Mom. I love it, it's a lot like home, just bigger. A brutal paddle out, fast and dumpy beach break.
PVBG: Is this your first time in Costa RIca?
Brooke: I came when I was 13 with my family. We went to Tamarindo, Ollies Point, Witches Rock. I was new to surfing then; my Dad and I were looking forward to coming back down.This is our first time in this part of Costa Rica.
Kayla: I've been to Nosara and Tambor multiple times for fun. This is my first time for an event in CR.
Brooke, charging this Este left.
PVBG: This is the first year competing in QS events. How is that going for you?
Brooke: Tough year. Frustrating because of the losses but amazing experienes and I’m working hard at following my dream. The whole pro tour is more heavy than people realize. Being in different environments, adjusting, you want to do well 'cause you travelled so far so you put pressure on yourself. I feel like I’m starting to get used to it and each trip helps. I’ve been most comfortable here so far because the wave reminds me of home. I love staying right on the beach.
PVBG: What is a break you haven't surfed that you would love to if you could?
Brooke: Oahu, North Shore.
Kayla: Restaurants in Fiji
PVBG: How do you handle the pressure of competition?
Brooke: Don’t overthink it. Stay calm. Show people you know how to surf.
Kayla: I always pray. Take super deep breaths.
Photo courtesy of World Surf League: Kayla Durden
PVBG: What helps you to relax before a heat?
Brooke: Stay a little more quiet. Take time to get in the zone. Visualize my heat.
Kayla: I like to watch, see where the waves are and put on some music and then go do it. Not think about it too much.
PVBG: Role model or person that inspires you?
Brooke: (Surfer) Sage Erickson, she’s a friend. We met a year and a half ago. She’s come a long way to prove herself, she’s humble and super down to earth. She handles her schedule well, she’s really driven and her dedication is inspiring. She’s passionate and I connect to that.
Kayla: My Dad first got me into surfing and loves that I’m doing this. My coach/family friend back at home Mitch that has been coachiing me since I was nine.
PVBG: :What was a particularly proud surfing moment for you this year?
Brooke: Going out in El Salvador, Punto Roca (WQS event). It was really heavy and I was really scared before my heat, It felt good to overcome that fear.
Kayla: Making the quarter finals at the first (QS) event of the year. The Shoe City Pro. That was my goal and I achieved it.
PVBG: Favorite local food?
Brooke and Kayla: The plantains!!
PVBG: How do you feel about this event and being here to compete in Costa Rica?
Brooke: I’ve been most comfortable here so far because the wave reminds me of home. I love staying right on the beach. It always feels like an honor to compete in another country. Its so gorgeous and everyone at Hotel Pelican, the staff and guests are super nice and friendly. And the waves are fun too!
Kayla: I love the culture and getting to practice my Spanish! (Kayla has a minor in Spanish from University of North Florida). I love hearing different languages;there are surfers competing from all over the world and we're all here for the same passion. I'm impressed by how the event is being run.
Brooke enjoying a beautiful sunset after surfing Este.
PVBG: Favorite quote or words to live by?
Brooke: Don’t let anything stand in the way of pursuing your dream or passion.
Kayla: Those who stand for nothing fall for anything.
Kayla will be moving on to Round 2 where she will compete against national champion Leilani McGonagle. Although she didn't pass to Round 2, Brooke will be cheering on Kayla, and for herself is looking ahead to January 2017's WQS event The Shoe City Pro, at her home break in Huntington Beach.
Good luck to all the girls and guys competing and a lot of Pura Vida vibes to all the competitors!!
All photos provided by the families of both Brooke and Kayla; surf photo of Kayla by WSL.