Aired on 2021, May 04th  in Legends and much more! / Podcast / Surfers

Interview with Pauline Menczer





Aloha!
Welcome to the first episode of the third series of our podcast.
Today with us, from Australia, is the 1993 World Champion, Pauline Menczer.
We discussed with her about being a World Champion, Women Surfing and much more!
You can find all our episodes in all major podcast platforms ( Spotify, ITunes, YouTube, Amazon, etc..) or read the transcribed version on our website (please allow us spelling mistakes while transcribing)
Mahalo
 
TTOS: Aloha Pauline, welcome to the show, where are you today?
 
Thank you, I’m great, I’m in Byron Bay, Australia.
 
TTOS: Fantastic! First of all, congratulations for the GoFundMe campaign that was very successful. I guess a lot of people love you and are there to support you. I’m very happy that the goal was reached and that so many people in effect participated to it. What was your reaction when you heard that?
 
Well, the first few days I was watching it and it was dying around $3,000 and then there was a, a big media and it reached all Australia-wide, then some people went through it and started sharing on Instagram and then the surfing community started sharing it, lots of people who knew me back in the day on the tour and…. it just went wild, but could not believe it every, every hour it was going up a thousand dollars.
You know, we had an amount of 25,000 dollars because that was sort of roughly around the amount of money I would have won if I got my bonus at the end of winning the World Title.
You know, most of my life I wasn’t sponsored and, back then, the reason I wasn’t sponsored was because I didn’t have the look that they wanted….
That was the amount that was thought about, but then, I’m like “what if it goes over?” “Can we give it to charities?”
We quickly changed the GoFundMe campaign to have the 25,000 and then the rest goes to charities of my choice and people still kept donating up to $40,000 now, and they still keep giving. ( TTOS: it reached 60.530 dollars and it was a great success)
I just feel really blessed and really loved this, it is fantastic to get the support, I’m really happy that I can share that love as well with people who really made it happen.
TTOS: Definitely, it’s such an amazing news, I usually start the podcast with a different question, but as this was so important and so meaningful because it brought us back to our human part…..and to the importance of doing what is right. It’s so amazing to see how many people are connected to you. I just wanted to start the podcast with this great news. I’m very happy.
First question that I want to ask you is, in your opinion, what is the most important thing in surfing?
 
For me, the most important thing is just to have fun, you know, really appreciate good health and being able to get in the ocean because you know, we all live such busy lifestyles and, in the ocean, you’re able to capture a moment of belief and really just enjoy the moment you are living in.
 
TTOS: Enjoying the moment is very important, when you are out there surfing, it doesn’t really matter who you are, it’s just you and the ocean and maybe a few good friends.
Do you remember your first proper surfboard and do you still have it?
 
Well, it was really funny cause I started on a cool-o surfboard and someone broke, I think my brother, broke it in half. My first real fiberglass surfboard, I remember very well, I’ll never forget going to the surf shop, walking up to guy and saying, I really want the surfboard, but I have 20 dollar while your price it’s $40, would you take $20 for it? And he said, yes, of course…. earlier on he saw me surfing, gave me that board really cheap.
My whole career was about that, getting the boards and reselling them because of the lack of support that I had while I was on tour.
 
TTOS: I guess, at least, you had good memories of that first surfboard and many others, I guess it is also part of “passing the stoke” to another person right?  
 
That board was called “hotspot” that was a funny name, I guess it ended up in a landfill….
 
TTOS: You had an amazing career, in your opinion, what was its defining moment?
 
There were a few moments like when I won the world title in 93 because I overcame an incredibly bad arthritis, I’m going to flare up about that’s my world title. I was feeling bad every day, trying to move my body like a normal person can, but I wasn’t able to free surf at  at all, I would only surf only my heat… That was a really big challenge and to actually walk away and win the world title was amazing. It was also a very personal journey for me.
Another story about that tour was when moved to somewhere in Tahiti, until that moment there were only terrible waves, but over there (in Tahiti) it was different, the waves were good, but the organizers, were keeping them for the men and when the surf was bad, they were just saying : “let’s put the women on”……
 
TTOS: Oh my God, saying that today it sounds just incredible, it is crazy to think about it as it didn’t happen so many years ago.
 
We (women) had so many challenges on the tour, you must watch the movie “Girls cant surf”, it will give you an idea of what happened!
The interesting thing is, I’ve had a lot of messages from people that were on that tour that didn’t have any idea of what was really happening.
 
TTOS: it’s a very difficult topic, right? if we look at it today, in your opinion, what is still yet to change, but what’s the next to achieve in your opinion, in women surfing today?
 
I think like sometimes the guys still think that their role is more important than a woman’s role. A lot of these surfing corporation companies and the surfing magazines and all that, they need to give more power to women, women need to be in charge because they’ve already proven they do a fantastic job at it, I would like to see change where they’re just accepting someone who is really good at the job rather than if they are simply men.
 
TTOS: I agree with you, there is the need to give more exposure to women….
 
Yeah, even now as a retired surfer, a lot of the guys that were on tour are still getting sponsored and doing really well out of surfing, whereas us women have been forgotten.
Everything’s happened to me the last week, everything’s gone crazy because there was one or two news articles, then,  it just went crazy. There’s a lot of women now I’m talking to that, they’re like, we need to keep this going, we need to show that people just needs to be themselves and fought for what they believe in. And yeah, it’s just amazing
 
TTOS: In effect, you know, if you want to say, it’s a bad thing that things have been forgotten that also your title was not awarded, but it’s an amazing thing to see, like as we said at the beginning, the amount of people that have taken this opportunity to support you and women in surfing, but also to make a change and impactful one and maybe this is the last time ever that we hear about the stories of the non-equality…..
 
I feel there’s a shift happening already, but I think movies like this (Girls Cant Surf) will really make the difference….that’s what my heart is.
I still look at some of the top guys and girls, and it’s still, you can tell they’re still doing stuff that the sponsors want them to do….does really feels comfortable with a swimsuit going up their bottom? they’re wearing g-strings, that’s not comfortable…..for me, they’re doing that because the whole thing of like sex-sells.
As an athlete, I don’t believe it should be sex-sells, I truly believe that people just need to be themselves.
People should stop talking about doing things and just start doing them! As an example, let’s talk about Instagram, before all this (gofundme) happened, I just would put a picture up once a month and didn’t really know what I was doing, but now, I’m learning how I can share things and really got quite connected.
Last weekend I realized, “well, I’ve got a rare disease and rare diseases need some publicity”. 
I quickly asked Kelly Slater, Stephanie Gilmore, anyone I could think of, I private messaged them and I sent them two pictures and asked, can they put that on their story or on their posts?
A lot of people shared it, instantly, I would to create a platform where people who have this rare disease have no voice and could be a voice for them.
 
TTOS: I remember it, it was “rare disease day” , I think it was very impactful to see many people are impacted by diseases today and that are not curable.
 
Besides, thousands of diseases still do not have a cure or a medicine  and many people still get not enough help, like a perfect example, my disease in Australia, you get funding for certain diseases and not others, because I’ve got a rare one, I have to pay for my medicines.
That kind of thing shouldn’t happen, it shouldn’t be just because it’s rare, you don’t get help. That’s why awareness should be created.
The one medicine that works for my disease is called rituximab, in Australia, it’s $1,500 for an infusion, but the price variates quite a lot… depends if you have insurance, where you live….
TTOS: In your life, you’ve met a lot of surfers, some of them who are super pro, some of them were regular surfers, was there a meeting that was particularly meaningful for you? Like one surfer that you remember, particularly?
 
I respected all the women I traveled on tour with because we did work together a lot to make things happen, but someone specific, that would be Stephanie Gilmore, she’s just absolutely incredible, she’s very humble, very generous giving an absolutely amazing surfer, well spoken. She’s just really loved and she’s been an absolute, amazing best spokeperson for women in surfing.
I like seeing also Tyler Wright, who’s standing up for the fair rights of people, I think it’s great for her to be doing that, she’s someone who’s not just talking about doing something she’s doing it.
 
TTOS:  What are your future projects?
 
I’d want to still be a voice and share the message in the movie and keep talking about that because it needs to be shared for people just to be themselves and pick up the things I believe in. I’m not real great at organizing those things, but I’m good at talking. If I’ve got a good team around me, I think things will happen the attention I’m getting now, and I’m able to share that.
 
TTOS: it’s very important, you know, you have a different story and also beautiful story, you know, because still you won a World Title….
 
Yeah. And the year that I won the world title, I couldn’t move. So it was absolutely amazing to be able to win the world title. I, even though my arthritis was so bad. Yeah. It’s such a good feeling to to win with a disability.
 
TTOS: It’s an inspiring story that you can share with the new generation of surfers and people in general, talking more about your story, your life, your success, your difficulties, I think, is going to inspire them
 
A lot of people through COVID are really angry that they locked in and they can’t go out. It’s so hard being locked in.
But, a part of covid, there are so many people that suffer every day, because of their conditions they cannot go out….
 
TTOS: I guess also, from bad experiences, like COVID, people can learn, I think that this experience can help people realize and be familiar with problems that other people have in  their everyday life, not just taking them for granted and to start considering them.
I’m just trying to see the positive in a very negative thing…
 
It’s actually something my mother says, she always said to me “there is a positive in every negative” and I live by that as well. There’s definitely no matter, even we had a hard time in life, I’m on tour and I didn’t have sponsors. I won more events than everybody. So that was the positive. And then I didn’t have sponsors, but well, and truly learn how to look after myself. I learned how to buy anything and sell anything so I could survive and so there’s life lessons. You know, sometimes you don’t know why these things happen, but as long as things happen….
 
TTOS:  I think, it’s called resilience……
 
I agree
 
TTOS: We’re going to finish our interview with a short Q/A session, please answer the first thing that comes up to your mind…the best surfboard that you ever ridden….
 
The surfboard twin fin with two stabilizers that I won the World Title on it.
 
TTOS: Your favorite shaper?
 
My favorite shaper would be Gerard Depeyris from France.
 
TTOS: Your favorite song…
 
I’m really hopeless, I don’t know names of songs. I love Madonna, I like dance music and happy music.
 
TTOS: Your favorite surf spot…
 
Winky pop near Bells Beach
 
TTOS: Your favorite woman surfer. I think you told us already, right?
 
Yes, Stephanie Gilmore
 
TTOS: The last question, is a little bit unusual, we want to know your best relationship advice….
 
To have patience.
 
TTOS: Patience is very important, it goes also with listening and it goes with a lot of other things. If we would be more patient in the world today definitely it will become a better one.
 
Courtesy of The Boda Surf Caravan

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