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Image 1 for Women surfers in Peru finding joy in and out of the water

Lobitos in northern Peru has a unique landscape, and is a haven for surfers from around the world. All photos and text by Tristana Perroncel

Image 2 for Women surfers in Peru finding joy in and out of the water

Ultimately, the thrill of the pursuit keeps bringing women like Daniella and Vanessa back to the ocean.

Image 3 for Women surfers in Peru finding joy in and out of the water

Chio says surfing makes her feel like a child again.

Image 4 for Women surfers in Peru finding joy in and out of the water

One of the women who surfs in Lobitos, Claire, with her mutt and a unique local.

Image 5 for Women surfers in Peru finding joy in and out of the water

Claire enjoys the serenity of the beach. Valeria has made friends through surfing. All photos and text by Tristana Perroncel

Women surfers in Peru finding joy in and out of the water

13 January 23

On My Way is a photo series that explores how women build their own safe space in a male-dominated sport.

Located in an isolated fishing village in northern Peru, Lobitos is a paradise for surfers and a place of stillness where silence resides.

Through these pictures, I wanted to depict some moments lived before or after a surf session while walking to the beach alone, checking the waves, stretching and preparing mentally to enter the water, and the joy of the sacred experience.

Surfing photography is usually focused on what is happening inside the water but there is so much going on in the inside world before, as it's when participants prepare to enter an unpredictable environment, shared with others. 

The women are represented alone in the immensity of this desert landscape to demonstrate that they can find their own power in themselves, in their minds, but also thanks to the company of their pets.

On the way

Chio, 30, started surfing a couple of years ago. When COVID-19 restrictions were initially lifted, surfing was one of the few sports that could be practised outdoors.

"It felt like being a child again. From then on, I was magnetised to this sport, and that's how I came to live in Lobitos," she says.

"Before entering, I think of the waves and thank the ocean for this beautiful moment.

"Also, I ask it to be gentle with me and my board, to teach me and always give me some magic surf sessions."

Valeria, 22, started surfing one year ago with a friend.

"Thanks to surfing, I made many connections with great people," she says.

"It can be a bit intimidating at times when it's crowded or a new place, but there's almost always someone friendly cheering you on."

Pia, 31, is from Germany and says she's finding her path in the surfing community.

"Of course there are arguments sometimes when there are too many people in the water," she says.

"But it's nice to talk about surfing and the relaxed mindset most surfers have is a good one.

“When I enter the water I always feel nervous and a bit of adrenaline. You never know how it will go. But [I'm] always excited and it doesn't even matter how cold the water is.”

Preparing body and mind

"There are days that I feel emotion and desire, others fear, anxiety," Valeria says.

"Before I forced myself to enter and stay in the water even if I didn't want to, but now I'm a little more flexible.

"This has made me feel much more confident and eager to enter, seeing the sea I feel joy in my heart".

Gabriela, 32, entered the sea for the first time when she was 12 years old, but it was only in 2020 when she moved to Lobitos and saw people riding incredible waves that surfing became a permanent part of her life.

"You never find your space. There is a division between experimented surfers and new surfers," she says.

"I think that there is always an implicit difference who is going to ride the wave first. I always feel a little less in the water.

"I like being part of the surfing community but it's not always simple."

“By walking to the beach, I already focus on my session. It is part of my routine before going in the water," 28-year-old Frenchwoman Claire says. 

"The walk helps me reach a level of concentration and calmness.

"First, I put the rest of my day and the things I have to do later on the side, and then I try to gift me two guidelines so I'm not too hard on myself regarding my practice: 'comparison is poison' and 'no expectations'."

The ecstasy of the surf

Gabriela says she has an internal dialogue every time she enters the water. 

"'Today you have to improve, today you have to catch the best wave.'" 

"I also have an inner voice that is on permanent alert to show that I value my space, that I am going to prove something, that others will not care.

"It is not a reflective, passive path of complete enjoyment.

"When I get closer to reality, I realise that I have to fight, that I have to be on alert for the one who runs the most, the men who dominate the waves, the days when there are not enough waves and people are stressed.

"In the end, no matter what happens, when you enter the sea all problems are forgotten and you become a better person."

Vanessa, 31, from Germany, enjoys being alone in the sea. 

“I get very stressed when there are many people," she says.

"Before entering the water, I feel a bit anxious. And as soon as I catch the first wave, every bad thought goes away."




ABC Sport is partnering with Siren Sport to elevate the coverage of Australian women in sport.

Tristana Perroncel is a French-born multi-disciplinary artist based in Peru. She has developed audio-visual projects on women, surfing, natural medicine, and street art, and she surfs daily.

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