Zoë Alexandra

Location: British/South African

Years Surfing: 11 years surfing on and off, 3 years surfing non-stop

Fave Board: Suket / Favorite shortboard is Resistance (A small local brand in Bali)

Instagram: @zoetalexandra

Who got you started surfing? Since the age of 5 I've been an athlete - my earliest dream was to be an olympic runner. At 18 that came crashing down when I broke my back in four places. Three years of rehabilitation saved my ability to walk but destroyed my ability to run. I was looking for a new sport to burn off energy and came across an ad in a coffee shop from a surf coach...after that first wave, I was completely hooked! Added bonus was no pain while surfing. Absolute joy! I have been surfing ever since on and off between work and life but the last 3 years living in Indonesia it has been non-stop surfing and I love every minute of it!

 

 Zoë on a longboard going left on a wave. The sun is behind her and the ocean is glowing in warm colors.

 Photo: Balinthambalko

Best wipeout story? I had the privilege of surfing in the Mentawai Islands (West Sumatra, Indonesia - Dreams really do come true) in 2021 and was at a spot called Nipussi. This wave is my nemesis. It is described as the easier, chiller version to its neighbor, Bank Vaults but when your neighbor is a raging psychopath of a wave, chiller and easier are subjective. I've had a few great wipeouts here but my favorite was taking off on a steep lip and realizing too late I was just a little too deep so I tried to shoot right as quick as possible only to have the wave pick me up completely, decide to start barreling and off I cartwheeled down the whole face of the wave. The hold down on the reef wasn't pleasant but luckily LUCKILY, my leg rope held because when I finally came up for air my bikini bottoms were around my ankles only held on by my leg rope and to this day I have no clue where my top ended up. Swimming away from a packed lineup (of guys I should add) back to the boat and then having to ask the local boat captain to turn around while I scrambled for a towel had me in fits of laughter and helped dull the pain of the injuries I sustained from the reef. I lost half the skin on my bum from that trip across the reef. Nipussi and I still aren't best friends.

 

Zoë Alexandra surfing a blue wave in the Mentawais

Photo: Balinthambalko

What do you love/hate about surf culture? As a woman who worked in the film and television industry for ten years, it bothers me how little entertainment is out there about female surfers and the movies, tv shows, etc that are out there are outdated and the majority of these projects are made by men with male viewpoints in mind. I'm loving that more and more women are making films about female surfers but it's slow progress. If anyone would like to make an Endless Summer 3 featuring only women, I'd be the first in line to watch it! Don't get me started on the options of surf bikinis for women...I'm pretty sure all major female lines are run by men. I am very lucky to live on an island where women surfers are making surf bikinis and it shows. My bikini bottoms are finally staying put!

 

Zoë Alexandra surfing in the Mentawais palm trees in the background, spray coming off wave

Photo: Balinthambalko

How has surfing affected your life on land? The calmness I feel when I'm surfing, is the calmness I try to bring to every aspect of my life on land as well. 2018 was the worst year of my life. My marriage ended and with it, all the dreams I had had for my little family. The only thing that kept me alive that year was surfing. It was the only place I could completely shut off the horrific noise and just...surf. No judgment, no mess, no broken dreams. The world and my life made so much more sense in the water. It became and continues to be my drug and my therapy. It quite literally saved my life. In 2019, I decided I couldn't go back to my old work life (80 hours or so a week, 10 days of holiday a year, always saving money for a rainy day that never seemed to come) so I packed up everything and I moved to Bali, Indonesia. There are still hard days out here in paradise but when those come, my first movement is to the water. Where the rest of the world quietens and I can solve my thoughts one wave at a time. The other way it's affected my land life is I used to sit in a dark room watching the same tv show or film over and over again for work and now I make eco-friendly, sustainable surfboard bags made out of recycled coffee sacks found on the island and dead stock fabric @kangacollection and I've never been happier when it comes to work. As I said before: Surfing quite literally saved my life.

 

Zoë Alexandra standing next to a surfboard in a colorful surfboard bag made out of recycled products. Her back is against a rock and she's holding the side of her sunhat grinning.

PhotoBalinthambalko

What are ways we as the surf community can collectively protect our oceans? Plain and simple. Plastic consumption. It is devastating our oceans and every time I go for a surf, I see the horrific effects on our wildlife which makes it even more devastating. Stop using plastic straws and plastic water bottles, bring your own reusable water bottles and reusable straws. Even when it comes to buying clothes, any chance to buy vintage or pre-loved clothes goes a long way. Help with local beach clean ups once a month, recycle at home. All these things might seem small if it's just one person but one person can become two, three, four and one is always better than none. My friends at @makeachange.world here on the island are making a HUGE difference in Indonesia and I'm so proud of them but it really starts with us, at home, all over the world.