Women and the Wind: Sharing the Stoke and Cultivating Community

Women and the Wind: Sharing the Stoke and Cultivating Community

Water women Lærke Heilmann and Kiana Weltzien sail from the Canaries to Santiago Island in West Africa with a quiver of pre-loved surfboards for the burgeoning surf community there.
Posted on

If you have not been keeping up with our coverage of the Women and the Wind, we suggest you get acquainted with these fierce water-women  and then read about their incredible 30-day Atlantic crossing, from North Carolina to the Azores, on their fifty year-old catamaran, Mara Noka , which they restored by hand. 

It's no surprise that the sea called them together again. After completing their North Atlantic crossing, Kiana and Laerke teamed up again for an 11-day journey from the Canaries to Cabo Verde, West Africa — this time with a new mission: bringing used and repurposed surfboards to a small surf community on the island of Santiago. 

Words by Lærke Heilmann and Kiana Weltzien

Over 400,000 surfboards are created each year, most using toxic, non-biodegradable materials. Fixing a broken board can be costly, and many end up in landfill if they break, or sit in storage with no use. This is often the case in the Canary Islands where surfing has become the new tourist attraction, and surf schools go through large numbers of soft tops and boards every year — many ending their lives as trash.

A desire to give these boards a second life motivated Women & the Wind for their next mission. 

Upon returning to the Canaries after the North Atlantic crossing, Laerke reached out to local surf schools and friends in the area asking for boards that needed fixing or a new home due to the lack of use. The response was very positive and she soon gathered a variety of boards, from soft tops to short boards. Local shaper Paula and board doctor Helmut volunteered to fix up all the dings, and soon trash became treasure.

As they set sail, all bunks were packed with boards and Laerke slept in the fetal position between all the gear. After 11 days at sea and an overloaded dinghy trip to shore - they made it. 

The boards were donated to a local surfer, Paulo, who has started his own project giving back to the kids in the village where he grew up. Every sunday he shows up at the beach with boards and whoever wants to join can. Every surf session begins with a short beach clean-up and all the kids are so eager to help out. 

It was a very satisfying feeling to see all the joy these boards brought into people's lives and how much help there was from the surf community in the Canaries to make this happen. 

 Everyone wins when we reuse, repair, and help each other! 

On February 1st, Women & the Wind will launch the premiere of their teaser trailer and their Kickstarter campaign.  As the entirety of this project so far has been realized on a very minimal budget, the purpose of the campaign will be to fund the post-production of the documentary in order to bring us what we’re waiting for the most: an hour-long immersive experience into life aboard Mara Noka alongside Kiana, Laerke, and Alize, while they spend 30 days at sea.

Join the conversation

All comments are moderated before being published.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.