There is a lot to be said for charting a life close to your passions, a.k.a. following your dreams. The majority of us will never know what that feels like. Fear, expectation from our peers, society or what we ‘think’ we ‘should be doing’ often prevent us from taking that first step. It takes courage to chase a dream. Determination succeed no matter what. An inherent drive that says your dream is bigger then your cubicle, office or house.


I met Tarnea Omera at a Girl Surf Network meet up (if you’re a surfer and you don’t already know about the GSN community, you should). We had a fun night of drinks and dancing at The Australian Open of Surfing where she had just been competing. I was fascinated to hear about the ups and downs of trying to qualify for the biggest stage in women’s surfing, the World Championship Tour (WCT) and what she was experiencing on the Women’s Qualifying Series (WQS). So different and far more structured than my experience as a snowboarder on the Ticket To Ride (TTR), I asked her for an interview on Still Stoked to describe what it takes to qualify for the Women’s World Tour of Surfing… it went a bit like this…


“I wanted to live a dream and not be at a desk all my life.” – Tarnea Omera on her motivations to become a professional surfer


tarnea omeara surfing
Hard work paying off… Smiles for days.
Photo by JCM



Hey Tarnea, tell us a bit about you.


I began surfing quite late compared to other Australian girls, at 16. I’m originally from the Sunshine Coast and I now live in Coolangatta, QLD. I started to surf after being so impressed by how my brothers were surfing. The way they surfed and what they could do made me so motivated to get better! I love all sports really, especially snowboarding which I have been doing forever. If I wasn’t in the water, I would definitely be in the snow.


Surfing has given me a source of meditation, an escape from other things in life and a form of exercise that keeps you fit! Every girl should give it a go.



How would you describe your surf style?


My style! Hmmm I’m not sure. I’ve definitely got a little bit of ‘feminine bird flying’ sort of style, but I like to think it’s still a little aggressive. I do love a good snap in the pocket. That feeling of the quick movement on your board, right in the pocket of a wave. You can release mass amounts of spray onto your neighbouring surfer… that is very satisfying feeling, ha ha!


surfing wanderlust Tarnea Omeara
Walking wanderlust



You’re hoping to qualify for the World Championship Tour on the WQS. What has this journey been like so far?


“At this level, it is a struggle to find sponsors and actual financial support to aid in all the traveling that you need to attend events.”


The journey to qualify is so much harder that you would think! I never really competed on the junior circuit or in other competitions when I was younger. I went straight into WQS standard. I struggled a lot and still have my moments. I don’t think I’ve found my rhythm yet, but I’ll get there and I know good things take time. I have a clothing sponsor, Monsta Surf; a wetsuit sponsor, Sheoak Australia; as well as Froth wax and 4D Surfboards that help me on this journey. You always make friends along the way that support you and help you out. But at this level, it is a struggle to find sponsors and actual financial support to aid in all the traveling that you need to attend events.



When did you decide that being a professional and competitive surfer was something that you wanted to focus on?


I was watching movies and little clips with my brother and just thought that the lifestyle of a professional surfer was a dream! Then I was like “why cant I do that!”. That’s actually all it was! I wanted to live a dream and not be at a desk all my life. I wanted to travel the world and get paid, so I thought why not surfing… little did I think how much of a long process it would be. But I know now, that if you want it bad enough, you can get it.


Tarnea Omeara surf nutrition
Put the best into your body to get the best out of it.
Photo by Roy Byrne.



Can you describe the process of qualifying for us?


“Travel budget and sponsor support can really make that extra difference.”


Oh gosh, I struggle with this sometimes. It is a points based system, the better you do in the comps, the more points you accumulate over the year and the better chance of qualifying for the world tour (WCT). There are comps all around the world that range from a 1 star (the least amount of points you get if you enter or win a comp), to a 10 star prime event (the most amount of points you can get from one comp). They are all over the world, in Europe, America, Australia, Asia, etc. The more events you attend, the more chances you have to rack up enough points that you need to be in with a chance to qualify. Only the top surfers will qualify (as well as surfers on the WCT tour being relegated to qualify again as they didn’t maintain enough points whilst on the WCT). To travel and attend all the WCT events so you have the best chance of getting points, this is where a travel budget and sponsor support can really make that extra difference.



What are the biggest challenges you face being a competitive surfer?


I have been struggling with the transition from free surfing to competition surfing. I get nervous easily, which makes me freeze and surf like a beginner. Over the last year, more recently in the past couple of months, I have stuck to a certain routine on comp days. I have taken note of what works for me on the day. These things include listening to music…something up beat and that makes me dance and move. I like to sit alone and breath! I get so easily distracted at comp, sitting by myself and concentrating on my breath really helps before a heat. This is how I focus. I also go through a number of stretches and exercises that help with coordination and movement. Everyone is different so I notice some of the girls will have completely different routines. It’s interesting to see how some of them warm up. I don’t necessarily like to surf before a heat, I don’t like that pressure of thinking that I have to surf before heats in order to perform at my best. I want to know that I can deliver on the first wave without a pre-surf.


surfer girl Tarnea Omeara
Smiles and snaps.



Can you describe your most memorable experience while trying to qualify?


I can’t really pin point one memorable experience. I take each time I go to a competition or event, as another day that you get to travel (which is pretty sweet). I did love surfing in the Taiwan Open though! It was so odd to them that we were surfing, they loved it and were so welcoming. It was the first time that I really was treated like a professional surfer. They were so welcoming and warm. I absolutely loved the people!



What are your goals after the WQS?

It’s the process of being on the WQS and qualifying for the WCT that’s my biggest goal. Each CT event would be a dream! You get to travel with your friends everywhere and surf ridiculous waves … the best waves in the world with 3 people out with you, tops! That’s the dream.



What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started this journey?


That it’s harder than it looks hahahaha!


Girl surfing Tarnea Omeara
Tarnea makes it look easy with her self-confessed ‘feminine bird flying’ surf style.
Photo NP Media



What advice would you give to any young female surfer thinking of following in your footsteps and wanting to become a professional surfer?


Do it! I really don’t think that it’s ever too late to start (remember I started at 16!). Mind over matter.



Any girls that you have come across that we should be watching out for?


Yeah! They are everywhere to tell you the truth. But it’s just if they are willing to take it the whole way. I have seen many just drop off because of uni and school. – Isabella Nichols is one to watch, Ellie Brooks, Kobie Enright, there are too many!



What is the best advice anyone has ever give you and who gave it to you?


Always have the intention to succeed, not the want. Nahm, my breath enhancement coach, told me that and it has stuck in my head ever since. I always went into a heat with the want, want, want which caused me to lose it under my own pressure and want to get there. If I have the intention, I put less pressure on myself to succeed allowing me to not get as nervous.


Tarnea by photographer Roy Byrne
Tarnea by photographer Roy Byrne



What has surfing given you in your life and why do you think other girls should give it a go?


Surfing has given me a source of meditation, an escape from other things in life and a form of exercise that keeps you fit! Every girl should give it a go.



Follow Tarnea Omeara’s beautiful images on her Instagram account as she travels around the world chasing her dream, surfing some pretty epic spots. We are very envious (written from said desk dreaming about taking the first step towards chasing our own dreams!).

Main header photo by Roy Byrne. 



Hiya, I'm Alexa. Always on some sort of adventure! I'm excited to share my stories & introduce you to other rad women, also living the dream. I'm here to inspire you to do the same :-)


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