The Most Barreled Mom Of 2022?
Frankie Harrer’s latest edit is a clear reminder that she needs a new sticker
Being a pro-surfer and having a family are often perceived as mutually exclusive occupations. In some respect, it’s easy to see why.
As familial obligation looms, we often see surfers fade from the pursuit of world titles or consistent free-surf content. Julian Wilson, Mick Fanning, Alana Blanchard, Owen Wright, Jeremy Flores, etc — the list is endless, and you can’t blame ’em. Having a kid makes you re-evaluate everything, and if you’re a woman, a chunk of time out of the water is just about inevitable.
Of course, there are moms out there getting barreled — see: Bethany at Pipeline — but there are very few pursuing a full-tilt freesurf career.
In fact, Frankie Harrer just might be the only one.
The 25-year old from Malibu has already made a name for herself as a woman with certified tube-prowess, and now she’s got a 1-year old baby.
Based on the above edit by Quinn Graham, it doesn’t look like the addition to the fam has slowed her down one bit. In fact, as we learned, Frankie’s maternal leave only served to invigorate her ambition as one of our cultures few female free-surfers.
Filmed in just 6 months — May to November 2022 — this video is undeniably the most well-rounded clip we’ve seen from a non-WSL female in recent memory (though Jaleesa Vincent’s Macaroni montage is a close contender.) It also begs an important question; if women have equal pay and equal opportunity, why can I count the number of well-supported female freesurfers on one hand?
Here’s to opening more space in the culture — and our budgets — for female role models like Frankie.
Scroll down for a conversation with her on pushing limits at Teahupo’o, motherhood, and last minute strike missions.
Did we mention she’s a free agent?
Stab: Hey Frankie! Sounds like you’ve had a crazy couple years. Tell us a bit about how this edit came together.
Frankie: Thanks! I had my daughter Yara in 2021 and I was itching to get back into surfing. I went to Tahiti for the first time in May because I saw a swell pop up and a bunch of my friends live there. I was still riding for Quiksilver then, and that trip was my first step back into trying to get clips. I got a few I was stoked on, and I started wondering if I should make a full edit.
I’ve never made a proper edit, and I feel like most women don’t, they just put their stuff straight on Instagram. I wanted to do something different, that isn’t as common for women to do.
Obviously there are far fewer female free-surfers than there are males, and your image is a huge part of your earning capacity as a free-surfer. What was having a baby like for your career path/opportunities?
It was kind of good timing, actually. I still had to take a year off surfing, but it was during COVID so I didn’t feel I was missing out too much. Before I had a kid I was enjoying surfing, but I wasn’t trying as hard or being as ambitious as I am now. I think stopping for a while made me realize how much it means to me.
It’s definitely hard from my perspective, to see how brands view me. Obviously I didn’t do anything for a year, so that doesn’t help, but I feel like it’s really easy to get forgotten about in our culture. I think a lot of people might write me off because I became a mom, but I want this clip to show that nothing’s changed. I still want to surf as much as I did before, and do as many trips.
I used to do a lot of contests when I was younger, because it felt like the only route to female pro-surfing. Then I went on a few trips and put out a couple little clips and people liked them. I started to realize I hated contests and I wanted to go the freesurf path.
I was riding for Quiksilver in this video, and they were super supportive the entire time, but then when my contract was up they canceled the Quik Womens team. I don’t really know why, but now I don’t have a sponsor. I guess I’m gonna find out how marketable I really am (laughs).
So, this clip is partially a bid to get a sticker on your board?
Yeah for sure, I’d like to work with someone who’s down to keep making videos. I want to go to places where it isn’t common for other girls to go and put together some sick clips with other women.
Hopefully someone’s down! We’ll see.
It’s so good to see a clip like this, it’s definitely a significant step towards creating more space for female free-surfers,
Yeah exactly, hopefully some younger girls will see it and realize they can do the type of surfing they want to do. For women it’s so much harder to step outside the norm because there’s so much less opportunity and money in it. At the end of the day I just want to do the type of surfing that makes me happy, and present myself the way I truly am. If people are down to support that, cool, if not, then I’m gonna keep doing it and get a job. (laughs)
What was your experience at Tahiti like?
I’ve been going there for a long time on and off. I’ve always been drawn to that wave. It’s the most perfect wave in the world, in my eyes. It’s really scary, but I wanna learn how to paddle heavier waves, and that’s a good place to practice. I did some step-offs there when I was younger, and now I just wanna keep paddling and going bigger each year.
Did you bring Yara to the coldwater locale in this clip?
I didn’t. That was my first trip without her. She’d just turned 1 and the trip popped up like a day or two before. Quinn was going, and I’d always wanted to go there — who doesn’t want to get frontside barrels? He said there was a swell and I was like “fuck it, let’s go.” I was scared to leave her, I was crying on my way to the airport, but it all worked out.
How are the trips when you bring her along?
It’s fun, usually my husband comes. He’s a pro-skater so we have pretty flexible schedules and we can make it work when there’s a swell that pops up. They’ll just chill on the beach when I surf.
She’s already obsessed with surfing and skating, probably because it’s all she sees her parents do. She’ll see a fin key and try to unscrew my fins, or wax my board. We’ll see what she actually wants to do when she’s older. She can do whatever she wants, I’m gonna withhold myself from becoming a soccer mom, I don’t think I need to relive that again (laughs).
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