Kaya Waldman is looking to capitalize on her experience this year at the Red Bull Magnitude contest.
The Red Bull Magnitude contest is in full swing for its second year. This female-only big wave contest is the only one of its kind and a great opportunity for the ladies of big wave surfing to show off their skills. One such rider, Kaya Waldman is taking this chance and charging. She was one of the athletes who participated last year and now is back for more.
FanSided caught up with Waldman to see how she is using her experience from last year’s contest to take advantage and make a splash again this year.
FanSided: Last year when we spoke right before the Magnitude contest you mentioned that it was your first big wave contest, how has your surfing evolved over the past year?
Waldman: After competing in Magnitude last year, I now feel as though I’m able to treat each surf session as if it were a big wave session. I’ve learned to bring awareness and dedication into each wave — and not worry so much about how I feel one day after one session, but how I’ve progressed over longer periods of time.
Do you feel more confident or calm having competed in the event last year?
Having been able to get an initial feel for the competition in 2020 and 2021 I definitely feel more calm going into the competition this year. The blessing of the ocean truly motivates me more than anything. The sea sets me free and pulls me in closer day by day — it is a love affair that has shaped my entire life and will continue to influence the competition.
What did you learn from last year’s event that you can take with you and help you out for this year?
I’ve learned to carry the awareness and dedication from big wave surfing in my day-to-day life — and it has been life-changing. I can really focus on myself and the ocean, and it’s shaped how I’ve looked at surfing overall. I can take these skills and my focus and apply them to this year’s competition.
Given that this is an all-female contest how does it make you feel to be involved two years in a row now?
To be involved in an all-female surfing event, taking place in my home of Hawaii — not only last year, when life was so uncertain but also this year — is incredible. Up until surfing in the Magnitude contest last year, I did not have any other female friends that surfed big waves. I had become almost a lone wolf in big wave surfing, so it is amazing to have found connection and a strong community with others through the competition — I am so grateful!
How do you keep yourself prepared to be ready when a big swell comes?
Breathing and prayer are my saviors. The format of Magnitude is big for my mindset since we don’t only have one hour to surf, we have three months. This really takes away the competition anxiety and allows us to tap in and focus.
How do you feel about being a part of an all-female big wave contest and do you think these types of events have inspired young female surfers?
It’s a dream come true for me. Growing up on Kaua’i, I’ve always looked up to surfers like Keala Kennely, Rochelle Ballard, and Bethany Hamilton. When I found out that girls could surf the way those girls did, a new dream started in my heart. I know that these types of events inspire young female surfers across the world. I hope that they see me and the other women competing in Magnitude and it pushes them to keep going, enjoy their time in the ocean and fight for their place in the sport.
How does the timeframe of the contest (being over 3 months) affect your plan of attack?
I love the freedom and support this contest gives us with the timeframe being over three months — this format allows me to do what I love. I can express myself truly and freely in my surfing, while also staying on the top of my game consistently. It’s genius!
The Red Bull Magnitude contest will run until Feb. 28 when at that time all the participating athletes will have to submit their best rides. The wave requirements are over 15 feet tall and any break in Hawaii that meets that height can be used. Prizes will be given out for five categories, overall champion, best tow-in, best ride, biggest wave presented by Yeti, and a people’s choice award.