A young girl took to the waves everyday with her bruised and battered surfboard. She was told not to go into the ocean to play with 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, or quite possibly in the Pacific. But she is. At twenty years of age she has a unique style both in and out of the water. The style of a trail blazer. 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. Returned from an opportunity that her young self would never have imagined possible.
Vanuatu relies on donated surf boards and a limited supply of second hand boards that constantly cycle throughout the surfing community. Resmah believes that a shift is needed, a shift that puts the power of surfboard shaping into the hands of local Ni-Vanuatu surfers.
Too often countries similar to Vanuatu are exploited, not only within the surfing sphere but in all areas of life. Resmah wants to alter the current 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. 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 immoral shift and helping transform the life of one woman who hails from a corner of the world that is at the mercy of everything he stands against.
Resmah learnt the art of surfboard making. And 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 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.
And now this knowledge is power. And you can bet that Resmah is going to use this knowledge to her advantage, to establish her brand ‘Resmah’ that will become the very first surfboard shaping and glassing company in the entirety of Vanuatu and one of a handful in the Pacific.
Resmah is selfless. She isn’t doing this for the money or glory. She is doing it for the next generation of women and girls. To inspire and to encourage the future surf board shapers, professional surfers, change makers and trail blazers just waiting to be given the opportunity to reach their full potential.
To follow Resmah’s journey head to resmah.com
Resmah needs your support to purchase initial materials for her first batch of surfboards. You can donate at http://pieter.com.au/index.php/prices by clicking the buy now button underneath payments, typing in your donation amount and ‘Resmah’ under description.
By Sam Suendermann