Our next rider is from our all time favourite country in the world, a coastline scattered with some of the most powerful, consistent reef and beach breaks known to man and a magnet to the worlds top bodyboarders.
Grass routes bodyboarding is pivotal to the vibrant local Portuguese community and the contest scene is one of the toughest around currently.
If you haven't been yet stick it on your bucket list now that their borders have re-opened because I can guarantee you it won't disappoint, be warned thou the reefs demand respect!
"My name is Madalena Valério but most people call me Maddie.
I’m 22 years old and I am from Lisbon, Portugal.
I was born and raised here and I don’t plan on leaving anytime soon, I love living in Lisbon and Portugal has so many good waves, just a few minute’s drive between them.
I started bodyboarding when I was 16 when my family started spending their summer vacations at Sintra, Praia Grande and the waves there were dangerous so my parents put me and my twin brother in bodyboarding lessons, after a few lessons I was in love with the sport so I continued bodyboarding during the Winter and from then on.
I think it’s a few small things combined that influenced me to continue bodyboarding, I’ve always done a bunch of sports and I’ve always loved being in the water, even if it is a pool, the ocean or a lake. Bodyboarding for me was the “next level sport”, one that depends on mother nature and pushes me out of my comfort zone.
Now that I think about it, I don’t think I had many childhood heroes, but a few months after I started bodyboarding I started hearing the names of some crazy good bodyboarders like PLC, Isabela Sousa, Ben Player, Alexandra Rinder and a few others.
One year I went to the Sintra Pro and watched them all surf, it was inspirational! Nowadays I’m competing on the World Tour and hanging with some of my idols.
Even though I started bodyboarding in Praia Grande, Sintra, my local break is Carcavelos, a long beach in Cascais, perfect for bodyboarding.
My favourite break in my country is Praia Norte, in Nazaré. When you catch a wave out there you can feel the wave’s power, even when it’s small. It has such good ramps that you can hit, its definitely my favourite wave
I’ve visited a few places but there’s still a lot of waves to discover. So far my favourite wave in the world is definitely El Confital, in Gran Canaria. The wave is a long right with multiple sections and the water there is crystal blue!
My first board was a Jared Houston pro model, a 41.5 Turbo black and orange, pretty cool.
We have a small group of competitions at the bodyboarding school I’m at. There’s six or seven of us, we are all really good friends that travel around Portugal for surf trips and national events.
I’ve been competing on the national tour for 5 years now and this last year I placed 9th, which is not my best result but I’m working to get there. In the last two years, I’ve also been competing on European tour and on the World tour, but the World tour is where I usually get my best results.
In my first year on the world tour I finished 7th in the leaderboard which granted me the “Rookie of the year 2018” award and that is probably the accomplishment I’m most proud of.
I’m not a pro rider but I see myself as one. I’m finishing college, I’m about to begin my last semester of Informatics and Management.
I’ve been searching for real sponsors the past 3 years and I haven’t had any luck so far but I do I have a few clubs and academies backing me.
Bodyboard Academy, is where I train get advice from my coach Bernardo Barroso, he also films all the waves I catch and at the end of the day he sends me the best one’s with a few notes.
I’m also part of club, Estoril Praia, where they pay my entrance fee in the national contests and if needed, medical care.
I also have a high performance coach, his name is Marcelo Branco and he owns 4Mental, every 15 days we meet and we talk about my life.
Recently he introduced me to meditation and a few other mind exercises to help me be calm, focused and ready when I’m competing.
Unfortunately, I’m not sponsored but I do compete in every competition possible. I pay for every flight and all my boards and fins. It’s not easy especially because I’m also studying so I don’t have much time left to work.
For the last 4 years I’ve been ridding NMD boards, alongside with their leash and fins, and they have not disappointed so far, their boards really suit me.
The wetsuits I use are from 0’neill and in my opinion they have one of the best wetsuits for bodyboarding and at a reasonable price, I’m really happy with the brands I’ve chosen so far.
Unfortunately I don’t buy as many bodyboard brands as I want, mostly because I don’t think Portugal has that many or if we do, we don’t advertise them as much. I do love a few of them, especially Grand Flavour and the wetsuits from SenNoSen.
I love to listen to upbeat music when I’m in my car on my way to the beach, it’s the perfect way to get in the mood before heading out.
Thinking back on all the amazing memories that bodyboarding has given me, the first one that comes to mind is from a session I had in Carcavelos. It was my second year with a boogie board under my belly and the waves were huge (2 / 2,5 meters) but also perfect, I was scared to go out but one of my coaches, João “Jofi” Barciela, convinced me to go and he managed to put me at ease, when I got to the outside I felt like I could do anything.
After a few minutes I caught a big one and almost got barrelled, after that wave I was running on pure adrenaline, I wasn’t scared anymore and I couldn't stop smiling! After that day I understood that I could achieve a lot more in this sport, I just can’t be afraid of the challenges.
The last 3 years I’ve been really focused on improving my level and quality of bodyboarding, almost everything I do is for this sport. What I should eat in order to get a better response from my body, how many hours of sleep and rest should I get so that my body is always ready, those kind of things that all add up and can make a difference in the end.
I usually have classes in the morning and I surf in the afternoon where I get to have a coach filming me and sending me feedback during that session and later that day he will send the footage to me with more details.
In my opinion, thanks to all the footage I’ve collected so far I can see a real improvement in my style, speed and control. It has been an amazing few months.
I travel all around, these last two years I’ve traveling to a lot of places, in different continents. I went to Chile, Gran Canary, Australia, France amongst a few others. I’m used to travelling in the Summer, from May until October and I’m usually accompanied by two fellow Portuguese girls, the 2017 women’s World Champion Joana Schenker, the youngster Teresa Padrela and the new World Champion, Sari Ohhara. Not only do I learn a lot with them but I also we have such an amazing time together, we laugh a lot and we try to really get to know the country we are visiting.
It has been a journey full of up’s and down’s but it has been so exciting to see myself evolve and learn every day.
I can't wait until world travel opens up again so I can get back to the life I love.
Photo credits include:
If you are in need of a new wetsuit click on the link below to grab yourself 10% off SENNOSEN
If you need any new kit come check out the Bodyboard Depot, The worlds local bodyboard shop, Guy will give you all the advise and guidance you need whether your a first timer or looking to upgrade your kit to take your bodyboarding to the next level.
Following the success of the recent Valentina Diaz bodyboard coaching sessions in Mexico hit up Valentina and the crew over at The Puerto Experience to see what dates they have in store for 2021, just click on the pic below.
If you fancy checking out the Mentawais with an all bodyboard crew hit up Stevie Maher on board the Asia.
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