Introducing Sophie Turner as one of our daughters of the sea. Sophie can often be found beaming her gorgeous (downright bloody contagious) smile in the line-up. She resides on the stunning Central Coast of New South Wales. Sophie loves all things resin and truly is inspired by the pulse of the ocean. Her resin artworks remind us of exactly why we love the ocean so damn much. Her flair for all things visual and creative makes her a lady you’d want to know. In the waves, she can be found on her KEYO. Where she is feminine, graceful and always down for a giggle when things don’t go to plan. We caught up with Sophie on a recent trip to Noosa, and we asked her a couple of questions about her sea story and also capturing a few snaps of her doing what makes that smile so damn contagious.
When did your love affair with the sea begin?
I’ve been a sailor most of my life with national and world-title-winning sailors running through my family for generations. As much as I wanted to continue the family tradition, the nature of the sport itself probably caused more stress than it did any good. The day I got my first surfboard was the day everything changed. I always personified the ocean as a cruel and unforgiving goddess who before that moment scared the absolute shit out of me.
She was petrifying.
When I started to surf, I saw another side of her. Surfing taught me that she can nurture you and teach you lessons that no one else can- if you let her. The first time I caught my own wave, I wasn’t afraid… I was in love. Surfing has a unique sense of soul embedded in its history, which separates it from anything else. Once you see first hand the enormous and magnificent power that the ocean has and once you fully submit yourself to her and respect her, only then you will realise she actually loves you back.
Who inspires you and why?
First, on foremost my mother- she has the strength of a wild brumby and taught me everything I know.
Secondly, the first woman I ever saw on a longboard: Flora Christin Butarbutar. She is the first Indonesian female competitive longboard surfer and is absolutely mesmerising to watch. The first time I picked up a softie log was in Canggu, Bali. I had no idea what I was doing. Without knowing who she was, Flora ran past me and told me I should be on a fiberglass board and flashed me a smile. She was right. Ever since then everything she does is just magic and I always thank her for encouraging me.
Thirdly my shaper Johnny Gill. Denny Keogh, his father in law, founded the brand in 1959 and Johnny has taken the wheel on the Keyo shaping business in recent years. Johnny’s wisdom and passion for the Keyo Girl Gang, as well as his expertise in crafting classic boards has kept me out there.
And lastly, I have to say that any girl or woman out in the line up inspires me. When you have a sport that is dominated by a certain gender it can feel daunting to approach that scene as an outsider; so when I see those older ladies out there and they are still ripping I can only hope that will be me one day.
What do you love most about the sea?
I’ve never considered myself to be religious. Sitting in church as a kid was always so bizarre and alien and I was always dreaming of being outside instead. I then discovered a way of thinking called Pantheism which isn’t so much a religion but just a spiritual way of thinking about humans and their relationship with nature and the universe. Bear with me: (It basically suggests that humans are a part nature, they don’t rule or sit above it. We are all one.)
So as a pantheist I’m not devoted to an invisible man in the sky or a building structure or a book… this may work for some, but not for me. I feel divinity and gratitude when I am on top of a snowy mountain, in a forest or most importantly, in the ocean. This thought system isn’t about taking, it’s about giving back to nature, taking care of the earth, the ocean, and every living thing that comes with it no matter how significant. This goes hand in hand with the fact that I am a thalassophile- someone who is a lover of the ocean/sea.
Throughout the pits and peaks of my life I often find myself returning back to the ocean. It has been a tumultuous relationship at times; yes the ocean has been a healer for me and many others, but it was often a provocation for my anxiety. I thought I’d take this energy that the ocean gave me (whether it was good or bad) and use it for meditation and in turn, came up with idea of Blue Space. There is a sweet and small window of clarity you received when you get into the ocean. It’s impossible to avoid the sea’s equivocal, powerful and unpredictable nature. Some days she gives me the best waves of my life, other days she scares the shit out of me. But if you can manage to find even just a second of presence, whether it’s a small exhale, walking along a sandy beach, catching a wave, listening to the shoreline or letting a wave wash the day off your body, this is a second of meditation where you have found your Blue Space for the day.
And that’s why I love the sea!
Why is surfing an important part of your life?
Surfing has been the foundation for so many areas of personal growth. Firstly for my physical health – it’s a fantastic form of exercise, cardio and uses a wide range of muscle groups that you may ignore during your day to day life. Surfing has improved my social health ten fold since I started. I loathed (and still loath) going out and partying, I can’t handle alcohol very well and I can be just be a hot mess in social situations and crowds. Forming the surfing community that I have around me has helped me converse with all types of people who have a common love of the sea. I’ve met some of my best friends (that I will hopefully have for life) in the surf. You never know who you will find!
Lastly my mental health- surfing has saved my life. There have been some darker times where surfing has been a tool I can use to get myself out of a bad headspace, even if it’s just going for a paddle. Non-profit community groups like One Wave have saved so many others with surfing and salt water therapy and is something we should all get behind. I am not the greatest surfer out there, I’m very aware of that, but like the old saying goes: “The best surfer is the one having the most fun.” I know that this may be the shitty participation award of quotes that just make people feel better, but it’s absolutely true. One day I wasn’t getting a single wave and my partner Elliott said: “If you think about every good wave you’ve ever had, there is enough to last a life time. So every wave after your first good one is just a bonus.” And as always, he’s absolutely right too.
What is your favourite surf spot?
It’s pretty hard to choose just one! For a local spot, Umina and Soldiers Beach can have some fun log waves. When we are on the road headed north, Crescent Head is usually our first stop in and was the first point break I surfed. I always find myself coming back to Creso. Further up North Noosa and Byron are just longboard sanctuaries that are lots of fun when there aren’t too many people out. Heading south: The Farm or Thirroul are both lots of fun. Great veggie burgers at Honest Dons too, worth the 3hr drive. You’re welcome.
What are the other activities that you like to do when you’re not surfing?
I’m one of those erratic people who picks up a new hobby each week and tends to leave a trail of mess behind me. From embroidery to watercolor brush scripting to production design and I love teaching myself something new…then moving on to the next thing. I have a Bachelor of Arts degree in Media so graphic design takes up a lot of my time. I also teach resin art workshops with a company called Prettyburd. We travel all around the country which is a great opportunity to discover more surf towns and meet some creative cats on the way. I love showing that medium to people who don’t know much about it, or have never worked with it before, plus its super addictive.
I try to stay active too so I love going on bushwalks in the local area near Killcare or Maitland Bay and I love diving on the Northern Beaches. I try to practice yoga everyday, even if it’s one second of conscious breathe- just to check in with myself. I’m pretty sure I could ski before I could walk and spent every winter in the snow or travelling around the world with my family to find awesome little ski towns in the middle of nowhere.
I also volunteer with Headspace which is a mental health service for youth in Australia. I’m very passionate about the work they do there and like to help out in anyway I can, just to keep to conversation alive! Jesus this list is still going.
My other love goes to my bees. I’ve been a beekeeper for a few years but those fuzzy little ladies have taught me so much about community, loyalty, pain, loss and generosity. My ‘Gratitude Honey’ is a tool I like to use to help out those around me who I am grateful for and it’s a sweet little way to make people smile… Plus it’s delicious.
Sophie wears the She & the Sea Soleil top paired with our Liberté bottoms