Katarina has joined us on several advanced retreats over the years. Without fail, she shows up with a fiery passion to “send it” whether it be in the surf, or in her Halloween costumes. She recently joined us in northern Nicaragua for her third Tube Clinic and she took her “charge it” mentality next level, consistently taking off on the biggest, hollowest waves and coming up smiling regardless of the ensuing wipeouts. She earned the nickname “Senderella”!
We caught up with Katarina post-retreat to learn about the impact that retreats with SWA have had on her surf journey.
Enjoy this journal-style entry by Katarina Marlett:
I’ve just had these burning goal inside for a while now: to surf more critical waves and to get that dreamy barrel! To set a goal and achieve it at any age. To show myself I can do it, and to be an example to my two boys!
Heading to Surf With Amigas Advanced Clinic with a host of like-minded women and badass surfers makes those goals seem valid, intensified, and achievable. During the retreat, at every corner you are held up by the other women, both participants and staff, (and not in that cheesy way that makes you have nausea) but held in a way that actually means something and resonates.
Sometimes I think back to moments on other surf trips, of being intimated by a boatful of male Aussie rippers headed to the peak, or times of being growled at in the water by the resident grump who judges your every move. Not here! At these retreats you swap smiles for breaky and fist bumps for lunch – in that not so nausea-inducing way that I mentioned before. No eye rolls… it’s the real goods! It’s the actual feeling of being happy and understood, of being supported in every way and encouraged to feel exactly how you want, when you want. No judgement. You’re given the best window to get the best surf and then every wave is on video for analyzing, celebrating, and improving.
Every upset is met with a supportive Amiga so that you can wake up and try again, and every victory is celebrated with vigor. And every amiga, has similar goals. They share the exact enthusiasm you have, they want the same things!
The advanced retreats are unlike any others because all of these women rip! We all want to shred harder and our eyes are saucers to the lineup each and every time. We’re full of froth and every second is about achieving the most badass epic session possible.
We’re back again to catch up with more alumni amigas that you may have met on your retreat!
Stay tuned for monthly stories and updates from our good friends across the globe.
Q: Think back to when you attended your first SWA retreat. Why did you book that trip? What was that first retreat experience like for you?
A: I suddenly lost my mom in September of 2018. I booked the Pavones retreat for May of that year. Being around womxm and learning from womxn is very comforting to me. I bonded with one of the surf instructors who had also suddenly lost her dad. It was special to be able to share those serious conversations but also share waves/beer/laugh with one another. It was an incredibly healing experience for me. (Hence why I booked the Morocco trip the week that I got home, haha.)
Q: Now that you’ve been on several SWA retreats, what keeps you coming back?
A: A lot of SWA retreat elements keep me coming back! I’ve become friends with the instructors, and it’s always fun to go on trips with friends… I honestly feel like the retreats are very reasonably priced for everything that’s included; instruction, video, food, lodging, yoga, etc… The destinations are so well researched and I feel like I’m set up for success… The food is delicious… Also, the retreats attract rad womxn!
Q: Describe the feeling you get from surfing…
A: Just, happy. I feel free and empowered and like I’m doing something I didn’t think I could do.
Q: What are you most passionate about in life right now? The SWA community wants to know!
A: Living in the Pacific Northwest, I’m most passionate about getting dialed in the backcountry (splitboarding, specifically). I’m spending a couple months with my partner in Revelstoke, British Columbia this winter so getting ready with continued avalanche awareness training, snow science education, and continuing to volunteer for Mt. Rainier Nordic Ski Patrol! I love snow.
Q: What is your dream SWA retreat location?
A: Batu Karas, Java
Q: What would you tell someone who is about to go on their first SWA retreat?
In this story you’ll take a trip to a village in Morocco alongside SWA coach Emma and join her as she falls in love with Moroccan strays and connects with a local animal shelter in an effort to help.
Here’s Emma’s story:
I landed in Morocco mid-September, bright eyed and bushy tailed, ready for the start of another season with Surf With Amigas. I was greeted by couscous, a cornucopia of color and an astonishing amount of furry, four-legged friends. Reesie, Chloe and I spent 3 days in Marrakech where we learned cats were king, residents of every street corner and territorial savages when tajine scraps were on the line.
From Marrakech we moved south to Imsouane, a village north of Agadir where we hold the SWA retreats. Waters once dominated by fishermen have transformed into Moroccan Malibu, with European tourists and soft tops flying about in the fog.
Marrakech is to cats as Imsouane is to dogs (and some cats). That first morning in the few days before the start of the retreat we stayed at a cute hotel further down the cliff from the SWA retreat villa. Feeling underdressed and too awkward to make conversation with the European hipsters that make boho look elegant, I went to play with one of the stray pups rolling around in the dirt out front.
What’s the key to keeping our lineups safe and fun?
Knowing and spreading the unwritten rulebook to surfing- surf etiquette! So, here we are! Ready to pass down and circulate some surf etiquette/safety tips, for whoever may need it.
Tip #1: Get to know your surf level
Whether you’re brand new to surfing, or already have some experience, it’s essential to find a surf spot that suits your skill level. Surfing at a break that’s right for you is the best way to avoid unwanted surf incidents- whether that means avoiding crowded lineups, difficult waves, sharp reef, etc.
It’s certainly courageous (and cool) to push outside of your comfort zone and surf difficult waves! You should only try to push these limits once you’re completely confident that you can control your surfboard and maneuver around other surfers or obstacles in the lineup.
What’s the best way to find a break thats right for you?
One recommendation, besides reflecting on your own surf sessions and experiences, is to talk with experienced surfers in your area. If you’re at your local beach and wondering if the break or conditions are appropriate for your level, scope out an experienced surfer who’s close by and just start chatting! Chances are, they’ll be willing to point you in the right direction.