How 2020 Inspired a Change of Heart for Vittoria Farmer
COASTALWATCH | PROFILE
All images by Fenna de King
Growing up on the Sunshine Coast, a stretch not known for large, quality surf, Vittoria Farmer speaks fondly of the tight-knit community. “The Sunny Coast can have long stints of mediocre waves, particularly in the springtime,” she says smiling. “There are some people you won’t see for months until the waves are good. And then there’s some people who surf every day no matter what. I’d say it’s pretty diverse, but all around there’s a really good vibe. The perfect week would include surfing, drinking lots of coffee, hiking the local mountains, and dinner parties with good food and wine.”
“There’s something special about getting fun waves with your mates,” she adds. “The surf doesn’t necessarily need to be good, but just being out there having a yarn and a giggle brings a lot of joy. And going really fast or riding a super-silky wave makes me smile, too.”
Transferring her dreams of becoming a professional gymnast to the ocean, the driven yet fun-loving young lady started surfing at the age of 13 and got her breakthrough result in the U18 division of the 2015 Australian Titles, where she placed 3rd. That provided a platform for a Pro Juniors berth in 2016, and even after finishing 4th overall on the Australasian rankings that year, Tori was already questioning her career path.
Taking a year off from competition in 2017, Tori got exactly the inspiration she needed as she committed herself to a steady process of self-reflection, working, training and surfing. Self-funding her travels by working as a lifeguard in her hometown of Noosa, Tori has never been afraid to roll up her sleeves and work hard to get what she wants. Unsurprisingly, not only did her surfing improve during this time, but her competitive desire also returned — with a vengeance. With visions of powerful reefbreaks that suit her approach (progressive surfing in bigger waves) dancing in her head, the 22-year-old set her sights on the WSL Women’s Championship Tour.
By 2018, the newfound passion was evident. Tori travelled to Indonesia and won an unprecedented three QS events back to back. Those victories provided all the impetus she needed to climb high enough on the rankings to compete in the QS6000 events in 2019. But then… 2020 happened and adjustments had to be made. Events got cancelled and Tori’s visions of qualifying for the Dream Tour were put on ice. But, like she’d done in 2017, Tori simply used the time away from the contest singlet to indulge a new passion: riding a multitude of different surf craft at home.
“I’ve usually stuck to high-performance shortboards in all conditions,” she explains. “But there are times where you lose some froth when repeatedly aiming for three to the beach. I’ve been largely influenced by my friends around me in Noosa; as they constantly switch it up between a longboard, fish, single-fin, finless, surf mat… you name it. Curiosity came into play, and since then I’ve been trying to experiment a little more. I find it so impressive when someone can bring a bunch of different boards down to the beach and adjust their surfing so seamlessly.”
“I’ve been surfing my 5’2” twinny a lot,” she continues. “Then, when the points line up, I’ve got this biscuit Bonzer, which is the fastest board I have ever surfed. I’ve also jumped on a friend’s 6’6” single-fin a few times, and I’ve tried out some stretched-out, old-school shortboards, as well. And of course, a foamy log or mid-length soft-top is an essential on the Sunshine Coast.”
As the year unfolded, a newfound joy simmered to the surface for Vittoria, and she became rather comfortable with the pivot she had to make. “This year was a really nice reset for me,” she explains. “What would usually be a pretty packed year of contests and travel turned into a year spent laying low at home. There were a few weeks where work was slim, but it just happened to be one of the best years of waves on the coast. I spent a lot of time surfing and hanging with some close friends.”
However, the aspirations remained, and Tori has written and rewritten her goals multiple times throughout 2020. And without a major sponsor taking pride of place on the nose of her surfboard, she’s started to question the competitive route altogether. “If travel is permitted next year, I will immediately be booking a surf trip to find some quality waves,” she laughs. “I’m not sure if that’s wishful thinking, but there is a whole lot more I’m itching to see in the world. I’m hoping next year will enable me to collect some more stamps in my passport. I definitely lost a bit of competitive fire during 2020. I love surfing and I love trying to be better at it every day… I just don’t think I want to go down that competitive route.”
While Tori never landed that headline sponsor from a surf apparel company during this tough economic time, she was fortuitously picked up by a surf accessories business that lines up with where she’s headed. “I am so happy to have connected with RYD this year,” she says. “It has really put some pep in my step to have a company backing me for being me. Their values really lined up with mine at a time when I was questioning the competitive side. They focus a lot on just having fun and sharing the stoke, something that can get lost in translation with the pressure and expectation that competitive surfing brings. In the couple of surf shoots I’ve done with RYD, there hasn’t been any guidelines or criteria to follow. I’ve just been asked to surf and have fun!”
“That’s something I can easily subscribe to.”
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