It’s all in the name … Young Boomerang Beach local Leila Salt is going to be one to watch in the sport of surfing, having taken out many high calibre competitions at the young age of 9. Leila chatted with FOCUS about her love for the ocean and her dreams for the future …
How long have you been surfing?
I have been surfing now for about 4½ years, starting when I was about 5 years old. I always wanted to get out and surf with my dad and big brother, Oscar.
Where did you learn to surf?
I started surfing around the Pacific Palms area at Elizabeth Beach, which is usually protected and small for beginners, although on its day it can get big and heavy! From there I progressed to the more challenging waves of Boomerang and Blueys Beach.
You won the Under 10s title at Wahu Surfer Grom Comp series at the Gold Coast in January. Tell us about the competition and how you took it out?
The Wahu Surfer Grom Comps are a national junior series with 10 events held around the country over summer. I competed in three events in the series: the Northern Beaches, which I won; Cronulla, where I finished 3rd; and lastly the Gold Coast, which I also won.
It was great to travel to another state to surf to experience new waves, meet new people and challenge myself against QLD surfers. The conditions for the event were really challenging, with a big swell running and strong winds. I managed to win all of my heats and advance through to the Final.
The Final was exciting, but also scary, with some big heavy waves breaking on a shallow sand bar. I got some good early waves in the heat but also got rag dolled on a big set (that I also claimed “wipe out of the comp” award for). Towards the back end of the heat, I managed to get a great wave and I was stoked when the commentator announced my score, and I realised it was enough to put me in the lead and win the Final.
It felt great to win, and I was lucky to have my brother and a group of friends there to lift me out of the water and chair me up the beach, just like the pro surfers do.
What are some of the other competitions you’ve competed in, and which ones have you won?
I have competed in BL’S Blast Off for the past three years. Blast Off is one of the biggest junior competitions in the world and is run by former World Tour surfer Barton Lynch and held on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. I placed 2nd 2013, 3rd 2014 and last year I was able to win the event.
I have also competed in and won the Mid North Coast Girls Surf Rider Classic, which is held every year at Bonny Hills, and the Billabong Oz Grom Cup at Coffs Harbour, in which I finished 3rd, as well as wins in the Wahu National Grom Comps series.
Do you have a favourite location to surf, and who do you like to surf with?
My favourite place to surf is home at Boomerang Beach; it has to be one of the best beaches in the world! I also like to surfing at Narrawalle on the South Coast, Kirra on the Gold Coast and Keramas in Bali.
I love surfing with my dad and brothers and also all the local Palms Groms around home.
How many times a week do you get out in the water?
I usually surf every day except Monday, when I have swim squad training. I try to surf as much as I can, whenever I can!
What type of board do you ride?
I ride a custom Webster Surfboard 4′ 3″ Sabre model. Wayne Webster, who made my board, said it was the smallest board he has ever shaped.
Who’s your favourite pro surfer?
Stephanie Gilmore is my favourite female surfer, and Julian Wilson is my favorite male.
Biggest and scariest wave you’ve ever surfed?
Some of the biggest waves I have ridden have been here at home at South Boomerang. The waves were bigger than a two storey house and really scary, but exciting at the same time. I took a lot of beatings, but managed to get a few really good ones too. I have also surfed some really big but perfect waves at Kirra on the Gold Coast.
How do you prepare yourself for surf contests?
I don’t really have a set routine yet; I just try to surf as much as I can and go and get to enjoy new waves, places and meeting new friends. Maybe in the next couple of years I will start to do some heat specific training.
What are your goals and dreams for surfing?
My main thing at the moment is to enjoy surfing and learn new things every time I surf. I enjoy competing and hope to keep getting some good results along the way.
I would love to one day compete on the World Tour travelling the globe, and it could be my job to surf. Hopefully I can just keep surfing and see where it will take me – see and surf the world and meet and visit awesome people and places.