Laura Enever Undone Book Review
Australian surfer Laura Enever spent the last two years chasing Australia’s scariest waves. Her journey is documented in a film called Undone and behind the scenes by Matt Dunbar, creating a women’s surfing collector’s special, The Undone Book. The book features interviews with surfing royalty such as Stephanie Gilmore, Joel Parkinson, Layne Beachley, Mick Fanning, and others, accompanied by imagery from Australia’s leading surf photographers.
Read this book if: you want to own a piece of visual poetry and fierce women’s surfing that has never been seen before on waves of this magnitude.
Buy this book for friends who: look for motivation with their own pipedreams, whether surfing or not, it is impossible to not be inspired after thumbing the pages of this book and its photography.
You know that feeling when you pick up a surf magazine and there is a photo of a girl ripping, or an editorial on your favourite female surfer? No, you’ve never had that feeling? Yeah, me neither. It hardly ever happens, bar a handful of women-only surf mags that have risen in retaliation to the void of coverage women surfers receive in mainstream media. That’s why this book is so special. It’s a one-of-a-kind piece of women’s surfing history.
What we find in The Undone book which is more a beautiful, quality stock, glossy magazine, is everything you would hope for as a female surfer. It is filled with pages after pages of incredible photography that show that unique balance of feminine, hard-charging, fashion-focused, blonde-tousled craziness that is the bundle of energy of Laura Enever. The facets of Laura’s personality and surfing are so diverse that photographer Matt Dunbar can fill 120 pages that keep you turning page after page, never losing awe or amazement.
Although you may not know Laura personally, I feel many surfing fans relate to her on a personal level and feel like they do indeed know her. The tiny 50kg blonde girl from Narrabeen on Sydney’s Northern Beaches is the relatable, girl-next-door, fashion-loving bestie we all wish we had in our lives. Always smiling, always at the center of any WSL party photo, and usually with a cocktail in her hand. She gives strangers (like me when we first met), the biggest hugs, and is about as down-to-earth as they come.
“Laura is so loved by everybody. She is such a feminine, beautiful, petite young woman, but because she has been nurtured in this intense male-dominated line-up, a place so heavy with surf history and culture, she’s this wonderful balance. And that’s something I’ve always really loved about the best female athletes and women who inspire me – they have this balance where they are not afraid to be themselves.”
– 7x World Champion surfer, Stephanie Gilmore
The book starts with a foreword by the Queen, Miss Stephanie Gilmore. Steph offers a unique insight into the warped, marble-filled mind of her petite, blonde-bombshell, dear friend. Stephanie is the first to introduce a sentence that repeats throughout the book and with the many stories recounted by on-lookers about Laura, “I thought she was going to die, but she came up laughing”.
A few more pages in, after Stephanie’s beautiful words, Laura is interviewed by Vaughn Blakey (from our favourite podcast The Swellians). Anyone who surfs a crowded, localized spot, or gets a hard-time from the boys who out-number you 100-1, can relate to Laura’s answers about growing up and being pushed at one of Australia’s most localized breaks, Narrabeen. From time spent in the ‘dog-cage’ to still to this day, having to start at the bottom of the pecking order to get waves, us the humble reader can see a bit of ourselves in the vulnerable answers Laura offers:
“To this day, I have to fight for my waves out there. It’s just the nature of that line-up… One of the reasons I was able to qualify for the World Tour was because of the competitiveness I had to deal with on a daily basis at Narrabeen. The funny thing is, you learn to scrap. And then you get home [from traveling the world on tour] and it’s straight back to the end of the line. It kept you humble and honest”.
– Laura Enever, on growing up in Narrabeen
Of her 7 years on the World Tour from age 18, Laura says she only enjoyed four of those years. The others were spent fumbling her way through getting to know herself and succumbing to the pressure of it all. But where this tiny nugget of a human really came alive was in the big, powerful swell. Her announcement as a big wave charger came in 2015 on a trip to P-Pass in Micronesia. On her first trip to that heavy spot she recounts her awkward surfing and that she “didn’t really know what I was doing or how to properly surf waves like that”. After repeatedly getting wipeout of the day, she became more calculated because she “didn’t want to be the girl who has a go but gets obliterated.” She wanted to be the girls that’s “pulling in and making these waves”. And make them she did, and the whole surfing world took note.
“This 50 – kilo little girl drinking cocktails coming over here to surf “The Right”? I was like, “holy crap, I wonder what’s going to happen here?”
– Shanan Worrall ( WA Big Wave Surfer)
Undone the movie is filmed mostly on the heavy slabs of NSW’s south coast, Tasmania and The Right in Western Australia. Think cold, dark and deep-ocean water, the threat of sharks and crowds upon crowds of boys beating their chests alongside their jetskis and photographer pals. Then this little blonde girls rocks up in her pastel purple wetsuit, ready to ‘have a go’. I recently heard a local girl here a few beaches down from where Laura grew up recounting wanting to paddle out at a relatively secret(ish) wave with a fierce local line up. She was weary as the only girl. She asked herself “what would Laura do?” – and with that newfound confidence, she pulled out her longboard and paddled out.
“I hope for young girls especially, Undone helps them to believe they can do anything. The times are already changing.”
– Laura Enever
This book and all the images and words between its 120 pages is a testament to working hard at a pipe dream even when you are riddled with doubt and giving in to the voices in your head that tell you “you can’t”. We all have those voices in our heads, especially when it comes to surfing on the edge of our comfort zone. Laura is no different and Undone the book and the movie is an exploration of a journey that we can all relate to.
In Laura’s case, it is waves that very few mere-mortals would even consider being in the midst of. But the story is relatable. The courage and palatable and the outcome, that feeling of succeeding in something that first shared the absolute shit out of you, well we all know how that feels.
“It was amazing the difference two years had made especially in her attitude. The improvement was pretty nuts. The nervous girl who’d sat on the rocks full of doubt was gone. She was there to surf.”
– Russ Bierke (Big Wave Surfer)
So I’d say to any woman wanting to own a tangible piece of women’s surfing history, that they can thumb through while they sip their morning coffee and battle the self-deprecating voices in their head, this book will be something you will keep going back to. If Laura can, then maybe you can too? Personal journeys come in all shapes and sizes and there is so much inspiration packed into this book that will inspire you to tackle your own dreams head-on.
The Undone book is available to buy on the Undone website for $40 Australian dollars. For a mere $10 extra Laura will sign it and write you a personal message. Sadly the book only ships to Australia but I’m sure if you contacted Matt Dunbar, he would send you a copy abroad. It’s 100% worth owning!