How To Surf Big Waves With Polly Ralda

You are into big wave surfing! How did this passion develop?

Ever since I started surfing, back in Guatemala I always knew that if I ever had the chance to surf a big wave I definitely would. I moved to Hawaii to become a big wave rider. The funny part was that I had never surfed a big wave before or even seen one. I just always wanted to do it. I moved to Hawaii and someone offered to take me out at Waimea Bay and I accepted. Since the first moment I got a small Waimea wave I knew that was what I wanted to do the rest of my life.

What is your favourite thing about riding big waves?

My favourite thing about riding big waves is definitely the feeling of being alive and fully present in the moment. Also that I learn a lot about myself when I surf big waves, things about me that have no relationship with big wave surfing. I came across fears that were not even real, like being afraid of what other people will think about me. It also made me very humble. The ocean really doesn’t like me when I am not humble. It also helps me to really believe in myself because I am all I have so during the years I became super confident (not arrogant) but confident in myself.

How do you overcome fear?

Overcoming fear is one of the things that keep me surfing but overcoming fear is a process that takes time. I like being scared and seeing how my mind starts doubting, then my mind likes making some excuses, then the process of me talking to myself, trying to remind myself that I have done this many times before, then the process of convincing myself that I have to get a wave and paddling for a wave. The whole overcoming fear and convincing myself is what I like about surfing big waves. Its all in the mind and being comfortable when you are uncomfortable.

What type of training do you do to prepare yourself for big wave surfing?

I make my training so hard that surfing big waves is the easy part. I try to train every single day sometimes even twice a day. I try to alternate between functional training, free diving, weightlifting and martial arts. But most importantly : I train my mind, so when the big wave comes I already went a million times in my mind.

Do you still surf smaller waves?

I am not going to lie, I still surf small waves sometimes but I would rather go free diving when the waves are small. I like longboarding or playing around with my single fins when it's small but I would rather wait for when it gets big.

What advice would you give to somebody wanting to learn to surf bigger and scarier waves?

To be a hundred percent committed, no matter what. To hold that vision and trust the process. Big wave surfing takes a lot of time, I have been doing it for five years and I still have so much to learn. It can get very discouraging at times. A person has to be willing to wipe out a lot and have many hold downs. To train very hard because surfing big waves is not a joke, and to train the mind because I believe that even a weak body will listen to a strong mind.

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