Getting to know the real Pauline Menczer
Where are you from?
I was born in Bondi, better known as ‘scum valley’ back then. I grew up with my mum, twin brother and my two older twin brothers. At 18 I moved to Byron shire to be closer to my coach Steve Foreman who lived in Bangalow and convinced my mum to move here, where she spent most of her time living in Newrybar and Nimbin.
What do you do when you’re not in the water?
I love camping and getting off the beaten track, but my biggest passion outside of the ocean is spending time in my garden in Brunswick, attempting to grow fruit, veg and succulents. I love cooking up roasts on an open fire in the homemade camp kitchen that I built this year out of all recycled stuff. I’ve had long periods where I haven’t been able to surf due to health issues and immersing yourself in nature, dirt and plants is definitely the next best thing to riding waves.
How long have you been surfing?
Well I’m 50 and started around 12 or 14, so I can’t actually remember! Over 35 years! I’m hoping to keep surfing until I have a walking stick.
Why did you take it up?
My three brothers and I literally grew up on the beach since we were toddlers at Bondi and Bronte and were all avid swimmers. One day my older brother snapped his Coolite in half, I grabbed the other half and was addicted from the moment I caught my first wave on it. I saved to get my own board from that moment on and never looked back.
Apart from the joy of surfing the waves, what else has surfing given you?
Wow where do I start! It’s shaped my entire life. I’ve had the opportunity to travel to some of the most incredible places in the world and experience so many different, amazing cultures. I’ve made lifelong friends from France to Hawaii to Gabon and got to live in people’s homes and become part of their families.
Surfing isn’t just a sport, it’s a total lifestyle. I’ve been fortunate to ride some of the best waves in the world, from South America to remote West African islands. It wasn't always easy being on the tour but it was definitely always an adventure. People always focus on the money aspect or lack of it, but I wouldn’t change the life I’ve had thanks to surfing.
What would you say to a woman of any age considering trying surfing for the first time?
I love to see both little groms and women in their 70’s giving it a go and having a ball. We live in the most incredible surf region with a variety of waves to cater for every level. Just be brave and give it a crack.
You’re never ever too old to learn. I think a lot of older women feel a bit intimidated getting amongst it when there’s a crowd or they worry about getting in experienced surfers’ way. There are now so many other kind women and men in the water who will cheer you on, encourage you, share the waves and give you a few tips. Just know your limits and start in small gentle waves and take the time to read up on surf etiquette!
If you’re lucky enough to live somewhere like Lennox where there is a local women’s surf club like the Lennox All Girls Surf Club, then join! You will make new surf mates who encourage and support each other to get out there whenever they can. They throw some pretty fun end of year parties too haha. Also, if you can afford it, a few basic surf lessons is a safe and great way to build your confidence too.