I hope you guys enjoyed last weeks feature on Liam Lucas, this week we would like to showcase some raw female talent from Puerto Rico who is going from strength to strength.
Last weekend she competed in and won her division in the Extreme Cibuco Challenge in Vega Baja so what better time to capitalise on her success and feature her than now.....
Please can I introduce Noelia Beatriz Hernandez.
I’m from San Juan, Puerto Rico and i’ve lived here all my life.
I started bodyboarding in the year 2014, there was a contest in Hollows Beach and a friend who was competing lent me her boog and fins.
I remember I got in the water alone because I had read a “How to Bodyboard” article on ebodyboarding.com (lol), so I went and took a heavy beating on 2 foot waves for a while, when I got out my friend told me that my resistance was good.
After that, it’s a never ending love story.
I’ve always loved the ocean since I was a kid.
Bodyboarding used to be more recognised as a sport in Puerto Rico before.
During the 90’s you got to see a lot of legends getting good sponsors, contests with a lot of money in them, etc.
When I was 8, I remember I saw a video of Claudia Ferrari charging at Pipe while I was in a surf shop. I was so impressed seeing a woman just rolling around on huge waves, I convinced my dad to buy me a boog, after like a month he finally bought me a red and green BZ rabia but I didn’t have fins so I just used it on shore break waves.
I didn’t follow it through until I was 24, which kinda sucks… I should’ve taken advantage of all that childhood energy.
My childhood heroes have to be Definitely Batman and Rufio from the movie “Hook”, but I’ve always had a thing for Frida Kahlo since I saw her paintings in third grade.
My local break is in the town of Loiza (about 20 mins from my house) it’s called Aviones.
My favourite wave in my country is a really tricky question, well the one I always prefer to go to is Hollows Beach in Barceloneta.
Hollows is a nice shallow reef with perfect waves, the right is shallower than the left, making it a perfect barrel. A lot of people say that it’s a mini Pipeline version, but when it’s really big it’s impossible to ride.
My other favourite break is Chatarra, the most perfect wave in Puerto Rico, It is also a shallow beach, the better waves are in the left “great tubes”, but the right is respectable.
Well I’ve haven’t travel to surf yet but I dream of visiting Zicatela’s waters and that right in Nias drives me crazy whenever I look at pics of it.
My fist board was a Pride size 40.5. I don’t remember the model .
It was always me alone but in 2016 I started to train with a group of young local boys from the town of Arecibo- local grom Ezequiel Valencia, Hector “Mosquito” Dario, Eduan Ocasio, Jose Ayende and photographer/rider Reynaldo Molina. They helped me start getting in big conditions.
I’ve competed locally but this past season, a lot of contests were cancelled because of hurricaine Maria.
I plan on attending next year’s IBA North America Tour competition on the island, and I’m working hard to go compete in Sintra next year also.
My Local Achievements include
2nd place Sharky's Bodyboarding circuit 2015
3rd place Cibuco Bodyboarding challenge 2015
3rd place Sharky's Bodyboarding circuit 2016
4th place Cibuco Bodyboarding challenge 2016
2nd place La comprita contest 2017
2nd place Borincano Bodyboard challenge 2018
Then last weekend 1st place Cibuco Bodyboarding Challenge 2018.
Well it’s hard getting good sponsors in Puerto Rico now, you basically have to have either connections or you gotta go to the street and look for them in any field- not just a surf or bodyboard brand. You basically have to fish for anything that you can get, either someone to pay for your equipment, another one to pay any contest’s inscription, diet and travel expenses, training, etc.
I wish I could get sponsored because even though I’m not a pro, my passion and dedication for this sport is enormously huge. I wish I had the time and money to go surf every day but I work and am completing my bachelors this semester.
Even though, I always try to go in the water at least 3 times a week, the discipline this sport has given to me has been amazing and I cherish every single bit, whether it’s eating right, to cut the alcohol completely when I was 23, waking up at 3am to travel for an hour or two hunting for good waves.
I would love to have the honor to represent any brand because it can only push me to work harder.
My favorite brands are JGboards, Stealth fins and Found Boards.
In Puerto Rico, you don’t need wetsuits because of the water temperature but I like the suits from Reeflex, they’re cute and strong – you need to protect yourself from the reef and sun.
I’m a teacher and a waitress, right now my sponsor is Caotic Street Apparel, i’m very grateful for all their support this past year.
My board is a JGboard size 40 with the ISS stringer, the best boog I’ve ever had so far.
My fins are black US fins and I’ve just bought a Thrash leash, they got a tight grip!
I like to buy from 662 mob once in a while, I like that bull!
Drum and bass, death metal, and Wu Tang Clan always makes me feel ready for anything while I’m driving to the beach.
One of my favourite memories of bodyboarding growing up was the time I surfed Backdoor in the town of Aguadilla.
I was so scared because I had seen videos and pictures of that place, it’s a beautiful, crazy left that breaks just behind a table of reef.
It was 6-8 ft that day, and to enter it’s really hard. I went in with a friend and I ended up having a blast, after that we went to another spot and surfed, ate, then we surfed again in that same spot. On our way back to San Juan, the guys had to take turns driving because we were falling asleep on the road.
Well I’m just a girl who loves to have fun and go in the pathway of love in this sport. I bodyboard to connect myself, and if I connect myself, there’s a truth that’s going to show its light permanently.
I basically learned the hard way, presented myself to every challenge I could handle and listening to all the advice I got. My motto is always “If you never try, you’ll never know that you can do it.”; so, I went to ride big waves even though I was tired or scared shitless.
I spent a whole season during the year 2015 in Playa Grande- PR’s heaviest wedge. In this place, I learned how to push that boog down for duckdives, and to keep a fast pace swimming every time, and I also got the heaviest wipeouts there. That whole season filled me up with the security I needed to embrace my fears.
I also try to make a reunion for all the girls who bodyboard on the island every year to go surf together.
Motivating women here is important because we only have like 30 girls who bodyboard around the whole island. This takes a toll on women who compete because now we have a lot of contests that don’t even consider opening a women’s category.
My goal has always been to keep ourselves united and fearless. This sport has saved me, because it works the mind body and soul. It has also given me experiences to help other people, whether it was giving wave therapy for kids with autism or helping out the people of the towns of Barceloneta and Arecibo who were severely hit by hurricane Maria.
I’m really thankful of all the moments I’ve had in this sport, and I’m looking forward to keep on learning and having fun. We live in a world that’s so disconnected with our needs that this sport helps you stay in harmony.
Photo credits include:
Felix Eyeri Lopez
Noelia your attitude and commitment are inspiring and your can do approach I'm sure, will both inspire any young girls reading this article into our sport, as well as those, both men and women who are already part of our sport..... belief is everything and I hope that you are able to get the support you so thoroughly deserve, I look forward to hopefully coming out to surf with you one day 🤙🏻 Puerto Rico looks incredible....
Go check out Noelia's insta
Next week we head back to South Africa to catch up with Reef SA team rider and brand ambassador for Lapa Side and Flip it, Brendan Greenaway, until then..........
VAN LIFE PRODUCTION