by Maria João Proença
Joana Andrade was born in Cascais, but Ericeira is the place she has been calling home for some years. It is also where she decided to fulfill her mission in life: to share her passion for the sea with as many people as possible, teaching them how to surf.
Surfing and surf competitions came early in the life of Joana, who sees the ocean as a second home, a place that allows her to connect entirely with Nature. Despite being happy surfing any type of wave, Joana admits that the bigger ones make her feel more like part of the ocean. “In the big waves, you need to be there a hundred percent, you need to live in the moment,” she says.
In fact, her experience showed her that her surfing skills improved the bigger the waves. “Big waves give me more adrenaline, and I like to challenge myself and get out a little bit of my comfort zone.”. This feeling eventually took her, 6 years ago, to another Portuguese fishing village called Nazaré, where she has since become the only Portuguese woman to surf the local giant waves. Meditation, regular physical exercise and training in breathing techniques are part of the preparation routine necessary for her to be able to surf these massive waves.
Today she no longer competes unless she is invited. Her passion at the moment is teaching how to surf. For Joana, surfing cannot be seen only as a sport but as a lifestyle accessible to any type of person, regardless of age. “For me, the real surfer, the good surfer, is the one in water with a happy smile,” Joana says, something that she aims to pass on to all her students.
At Aethos Ericeira, as a surf instructor, Joana challenges guests with classes suitable for all levels – beginner, intermediate and advanced – and different goals: from just 1 day of surf lessons, for those who want a different experience, to 5-day packages, for those looking to improve their skills by surfing different waves.
Whether in Africa, helping children get off the streets by introducing them to surfing, or in Ericeira, teaching all kinds of people how to surf, Joana’s main goal is always the same: to show that surfing can be much more than just a sport, it can even be a form of therapy.