Who? If you’re a young reader, chances are she hasn’t been on the tour since you’ve been paying attention to it. If you’re like the rest of us, chance are you don’t care about women’s surfing anyway. It’s cool, I agree… the guys are generally more exciting to watch. But Silvana Lima is the exception to that rule. Here’s why:
2.) Every wave is over head.
She’s a whopping 4’9” tall, maybe 100 pounds soaking wet. You know how those 12-year-old groms can rip apart knee high slop on a potato-chip shortboard without sinking? So can she. AND SHE’S 30! Days one and two of the Roxy Pro at Snapper this past week only confirmed that.
3.) She’s the reigning world champ’s polar opposite.
Take everything you know about Stephanie Gilmore and flip it upside-down, then put the two side-by-side in the same heat. It’s actually somewhat comical. Everything about the two from hair color to height to surfing style to native language clashes dramatically. After her world title last year, Steph admitted to me in an interview that her air game needs work. Silvana’s is already solidified. So far in the Roxy Pro, Silvana and Steph have had two heats together and have gone blow-for-blow. We’ll get see them duke it out once more in the quarter final too, and many more times this year I’m sure. Where Steph (5’10”/146) has to awkwardly pump out momentum in dwindling conditions, Silvana can throw her fins out the back and power through snaps on soft faces. The only thing the two have in common is an infectious smile.
4.) She’s tactfully anti-establishment.
She’s not sponsored… Anymore. She used to be, back in the day. Billabong picked her up young as a rising star, but they dropped her cold turkey after she blew out her knees without thinking twice. (They’re going to be kicking themselves when she wins the world title this year – yes, I’m calling it.) She hasn’t had any interest in modeling from the get-go; she just wants to be the best surfer in the world. After being dropped she crowdfunded her way through her knee rehab and back into competition relying on people who supported her as a person rather than corporations who use their female riders for their bodies. I am so happy that she hasn’t signed back on with a major corporate sponsor; her blank board is essentially a big FU to Billabong every time she launches it. Anyway, instead of walking away from the sport, she’s been scrapping her way back into it one unfunded step at a time only adding fuel to a fire that Billabong didn’t believe in. She’s also just plain DIFFERENT. Instead of bouncing into the water in a bikini posting Instagram clips showing more booty than barrels, Silvana usually runs into the water in shorts and a T-shirt, has a tattoos (really awesome ones actually) all over, and warms up with capoeira (martial art). Her Instagram (silvanalimasurf) consists only of some really rad surf shots/clips, her french bulldogs, training moments, and some funny selfies with her friends. It’s so clear that she’s doing what makes her happy, and kicking serious a** at it.
5.) She started from nothing.
Silvana is actually one of those stories. She grew up in Paracuru, Brazil She learned to surf on a piece of wood. When she did have money to spare with her early success on the tour, she gave it back to where she came from – She took care of her family first, obviously, but after her runner-up year she donated her winnings back to her city’s surf team.
I’ll admit that I’m a bit of a superfan… but you should be one too. She’s a complete game-changer. Even though she’s been cast out of the spot light for the past few years, she’s now back in full force and better than ever. Watch for this tiny Brazilian spitfire to be the much needed spark that women’s professional surfing needs to push the limits today and for years to come.