Vanuatu’s leading female surfer launches country’s first board shaping businessPosted: October 25, 2016
A young girl took to the waves every day with her bruised and battered surfboard. She was told not to go into the ocean to play in the waves.
If she was a boy, things might have been easier. But she couldn’t change who she was and, more to the point, she didn’t want to. She often wondered about the board she tucked under her arm as she waded into the clear blue waters of Vanuatu. Where did it come from? Who made it? Why didn’t it sink? It took this little girl twelve years to understand the secrets of her first surfboard.
Resmah Kalotiti won’t tell you that she is the best female surfer in Vanuatu, but she is. At twenty years old, she has a unique style both in and out of the water. It’s the style of a trailblazer. It’s the style of someone who is quietly confident, not only with herself but in the universe playing out her destiny.
Resmah has just returned home to the palm tree-lined shoreline she calls home from an opportunity that her younger self would never have imagined possible. Vanuatu relies on donated surfboards and a limited supply of second-hand boards that constantly cycle throughout the surfing community. She believes that a shift is needed, putting the power of surfboard shaping into the hands of ni-Vanuatu surfers. Too often countries similar to Vanuatu are exploited, not only within the surfing sphere but in all areas of life. So Resmah wants to alter that paradigm, and learning from past experiences, take matters into her own hands, quite literally.
Resmah spent three weeks with shaper extraordinaire Pieter Stockert of Pieter Surfboards in Newcastle, Australia. In his own words, Pieter describes his label as a “cottage style business”. Two hands work every board from start to finish, with the goal of quality over quantity and a genuine relationship with each client. It’s something that is a rare find these days.
In a world that has been consumed with the mentality of profit over people and machine over man, Pieter has maintained his principles to resist following almost the entirety of the current surf industry. What is even more powerful is his desire to contribute to altering this shift and helping transform the life of one woman from a corner of the world that is at the mercy of everything he stands against.
Resmah learned the art of surfboard making. I am not talking about the art of typing a few calculations into a machine to produce a surfboard, or the art of exporting the manufacturing process to Asia where men and women are paid a pittance to mass produce. I am talking about the art of expertly crafting a board, from early blank stage, to sanding, to getting covered from head to toe in dust, to running a squeegee over the resin.
This knowledge is power, and you can bet that Resmah is going to use this knowledge to her advantage. Resmah, the brand, will become the very first surfboard shaping and glassing company in Vanuatu and one of a handful in the Pacific.
She isn’t doing this for the money or glory. She is doing it for the next generation of women; to inspire and to encourage the future surfboard shapers, professional surfers, change makers and trailblazers just waiting to be given the opportunity to reach their full potential.
Words by Sam Suendermann. This story first appeared on The Inertia. To follow Resmah’s journey, head to Resmah.com. Resmah needs your support to purchase initial materials for her first batch of surfboards.