“Every day I have to remind myself where I came from and where I am now in my life. The Ocean gives me so much joy and I am humbled to be able to do my life the way I am doing it now.”
Mercedes Maidana has a unique story. Unlike most surfers, she grew up nowhere near the ocean. Originally from Buenos Aires, Argentina, she was a normal city girl living the cosmopolitan life until age 20, when she visited Brazil and surfed for the first time. From there, she knew her life would change for good. After tasting surfing for the first time, she traded in her high heels and makeup for wetsuits and sunblock. She ditched the city and began traveling the globe looking for waves. She spent some time in Brazil, Costa Rica, Australia and Indonesia, looking for the place near an ocean, somewhere that she could call home. Eventually she ended up in Hawaii and realised that her search was over. She remembers, “there is something about the air in Hawaii… as soon as I left the airplane and stepped into the airport – the warmth, the wind, the energy – it felt like this was the place that I belonged to in the world.”
Once settled on the North Shore of O’ahu, Mercedes began to feel the lure of big waves. That initial pull of conquering a big wave has now become the passion of her life. Less than ten years after she started surfing, she has ridden world-famous big wave spots such as Sunset, Waimea Bay, Jaws, Mavericks, El Buey and Puerto Escondido. She says, “there is nothing like the feeling of conquering your fears and coming out on the other side. It makes me feel stronger as a person. My spirit is in total communion with nature when I surf a big wave; it’s pure raw instinct and being a 100 percent in the moment. That is what I live for.”
Constantly training to stay in top shape to endure the power of the ocean, she has the right mind-set to achieve all of her goals. Her efforts earned her back-to-back nominations as a finalist for the 2009 and 2010 Billabong XXL Big Wave Awards, in the Women’s Overall Performance category.
Throughout her journey, Mercedes has remained humble and eager to learn from others who have put in their time before her. Always respectful of fellow surfers and of the ocean, she has put her heart and soul into learning to ride big waves. Mercedes knows that the only way to live her life to the fullest is to follow her heart and dreams.
“Not in a million years would I have imagined that I was going to be a surfer, let alone that my life would be transformed entirely and I would find the most joy in life through big-wave surfing. I consider it a miracle. I am a healthier and happier person in every aspect of my life. The key for me was to make the decision to do what I love the most and to the fullest and never think that there is anything impossible.”
Today Mercedes is living her dream and for that she is grateful.Background Photo: by Scott Winer. Kohl Christensen locks into another one in a seemingly endless week of A-plus surf in Fiji.