Women of the Shred
Kelp: First and foremost, welcome to Kelp Journal. Your profile came up on our Instagram feed, and I was impressed by the content. To start, let's talk about where you're from. Stockholm, right? Were you born and raised there? Have you lived anywhere else?
Laura Reeves: Thank you so much, I’m glad we found each other on the gram! I was born in Switzerland and lived there till I was six. I grew up speaking English, French, and Swedish. My mother is from Ohio and my dad is Swedish. We then moved to Sweden. I grew up kind of on the road, and both my parents are constantly on the move, so it’s sort of in me to change location.
I graduated from a school outside Stockholm and lived in Peru for a year. On my way to Peru, I was on a trip in Costa Rica, and that’s where I first surfed, in Jaco. I was hooked from that very first moment; it was quite unreal. I’ve then lived in various places, including Brazil. I started studying medicine and lived in Copenhagen, Gothenburg, and other locations around, in Sweden, but I always traveled a lot.
Kelp: So, this is fascinating to me; it seems like Californians think surf culture is really about Hawaii first, California second, and Australia third. So, you're on the Swedish surf team. Can you tell us a little bit about that? How long have you been surfing? Do you compete? How is the surf in Sweden? Is it cold? Are there many surfers in Sweden?
Laura Reeves: Most of my surfing has been on trips, starting in Costa Rica, then in Peru. Then I traveled to a lot of countries surfing. I surf in Sweden as much as I can. And yes, it is very cold. Especially from October to May. In January, it can be below zero outside. It is so cold, it gives me panic attacks. The waves are more of a wind swell, and to me, the quality isn’t always that good. But, sometimes we get epic conditions right when the wind drops or turns. It’s beautiful and exotic in its own authentic way. I also love bringing my car, my dog, my friends—you know, being a local. When you’re always somewhere else in another country, you’re never a local and being a local is to me very nice. :)
Surf is, as you surely know, increasing in popularity all over the world, including Sweden. I am not the only traveling Swede; I think it’s in our blood. So, every year there are heaps of new surfers that maybe discovered their first wave in the tropics somewhere or in a surf camp! I compete, yes; I’ve competed in the Swedish Nationals and ISA World Surfing Games!
Kelp: How many countries have you surfed in? Ever surfed Hawaii or Cali? Where is your favorite surf spot?
Laura Reeves: I haven’t counted how many countries, but I can try. Peru, Ecuador, Costa Rica, USA, Sweden, France, Spain, Portugal, Indonesia, Australia, Norway, Maldives, Morocco, Japan. I’ve surfed in Cali and Hawaii. In Cali, I spent most of the time in and around Newport Beach, and I loved it. Trestles was so fun. Also, Rincon was beautiful, and San Onofre. I went to Hawaii, and Kauai was my favorite place there, so beautiful. ️
I think Indonesia is my favorite place. The people there are so friendly and nice, laughing all the time. The waves are just puuurfect. The food is really good and healthy; it’s very cheap. Yes, it’s hard to beat Indo!
Kelp: So, another thing that fascinated us at Kelp was your profession. I understand you're a doctor? Or soon to be? What sort of medicine? Where do you plan to work/live after you finish your degree?
Laura Reeves: Yes, I am a doctor. I finished my degree, and I work in Stockholm, in the biggest hospital in Sweden, Karolinska Hospital. I have two more years before I become a specialist in emergency medicine. I work now in the ER, but I’m not a specialist yet. I would love to live somewhere where waves are more frequent. Not sure yet where and how and when. But for now, I travel a lot and I’m based in Stockholm, which is a good way for me. :)
Kelp: You travel, you surf, you are a doctor—these are all very impressive things and very inspiring. What would you say to people, men and women, who are afraid to surf or to get out of the comfort zone of their own country? What motivates you to keep going and pushing outward?
Laura Reeves: Umm, yeah, surfing can be frightening. I guess number one is being comfortable in water, to learn to breathe and just feel comfortable under the surface—become friends with the ocean. And then it’s of course good to push limits, but you don’t have to aim for massive barreling waves if you are scared or uncomfortable. It’s ok to surf smaller waves, maybe longboard, and always have fun. I’m scared lots of times, and I miss epic barrels for that reason. :( Little by little, you become more and more comfortable and strong and can push yourself more and more, if that’s what you want. It’s good to surf with a friend, to always have someone in the water with you. My motivation is just the incredible happiness that catching a wave creates in my mind, my body, and soul. It makes me so happy like nothing else does.
Kelp: Do you have any big surf trips planned next? Where is the number one spot you wish you could be right now, in the world? And what would you be doing?
Laura Reeves: Next trip will be to Portugal to compete in the European ISA competition. It will be real fun; I love Portugal. Right now, I’m actually in the Swedish mountains for one month doing an orthopedics placement. So, I’m skiing and taking care of ski fractures at work, and I’m actually really happy right here. But if I could choose a surf spot, I would probably just go and be in Uluwatu with my friends there. I love being there; it’s the most beautiful place and has the most beautiful waves.
Kelp: Last question. What kind of board are you riding currently?
Laura Reeves: Right now, a shortboard, a black box!!