Drop In Sessions Episode 6: Rochelle Ballard

“If you’re meant to succeed in whatever you’re meant to succeed at in life, you’re going to break through any sort of challenge that there is…” (Rochelle Ballard)

We’re half way through the epic The Drop In Sessions podcast series brought to you by the fine folk at Mermaid Gin, and have been delving into the inspirational stories of some of the most pioneering and groundbreaking ladies in women’s surfing.  From Keala Kennelly’s deep dive into her glass-ceiling shattering career, the big wave tales of a true change maker whose tireless work has pushed women’s surfing to other realms, to our frank and inspiring discussion with Rhonda Harper, the enigmatic, vivacious, and unstoppable founder of Black Girls Surf, who has doggedly worked developing the participation of women of colour within surfing both competitively and at an amateur level.

We’ve also heard the awe-inspiring tales of adventures on the high seas with sailor, activist, environmentalist and surfer, Captain Liz Clark who captured millions of imaginations worldwide when she left the US for a 12 year solo surf adventure aboard her boat, and multi-decorated champion Lucy Campbell gave us unique insight into what it takes to make it as a pro-surfer in the UK and the unique tapestry that makes up British surfing. To tie off the first five episodes, Kassia Meador, queen of longboarding and positive vibes delivered infectiously stoked chat on the rich heritage of women’s surfing, her unique career and how she become a true innovator in wetsuit design.

As we dive into a further five episodes, our next guest is a true groundbreaking pioneer in women’s surfing. Hawaii-based Rochelle Ballard electrified the world of surfing when she emerged onto the competitive circuit, with her fearless barrel riding, progressive big wave surfing and dedication to the sport making her an icon for the ages. Look up technical barrel riding and chances are you’ll be greeted by a picture of Rochelle absolutely tearing a spitting barrel to shreds, and she did it at a time when there were little to no safety measures for women, which makes her full-sends at spots like Teahupoo all the more groundbreaking. 

During her illustrious 17 year career on the World Tour, she won 7 world championship events, was runner-up to the World Championship title in 2004, scored two record-breaking perfect 10 barrel rides in a heat against Layne Beachley in Australia, and became the ISA World Masters Champion in 2012. She’s also a huge part and heart of many moments that have cemented and defined the unique magic of women’s surfing in popular culture, with a key role in developing the much loved film Blue Crush, in which she was also Kate Bosworth’s stunt double, and as the star of many surf movies including AKA Girl Surfer, Poetic Silence and Step Into Liquid. 

Rochelle is the Founder of Surf Into Yoga, a surf, yoga and wellness business, creator of surf camps for girls and women, and has worked passionately as an activist serving on multiple advisory boards including the “Save the North Shore Paumalu Project”, the ASP board for a total of 5 years, and Keep a Breast Foundation. Rochelle has also been instrumental in many of surfing’s most key developments including pushing forward women’s surfing, recently captured in the badass new film ‘GIRLS CANT SURF’. 

In this powerful podcast, Sophie talks all about those key moments that truly changed women’s surfing for the better, where Rochelle took a stand, time and time again, fighting for women’s rights to surf, to be paid the same as the guys, and to get to showcase their talents to the best of their abilities at the world’s best waves. Rochelle’s deeper, holistic approach to making the most of your abilities and passions, alongside her key role in creating the much-adored Blue Crush, and how the perfect web of icons of past, present and future inspire each other make for an interesting listen. Tune in for a stirring conversation with Rochelle Ballard, a seminal icon of our time. 

Personalities like me, Keala, Bruce and Andy (Irons)…We have this desire and passion inside…it’s like proving to yourself, but also the world that it’s impossible when people say it’s impossible…”