Winter Solstice. The weather was cool and overcast, blue sky cracking through grey clouds. The track to the beach revealed a clean two-foot off-shore break. “Arriving, we looked over the beach and saw beautiful sweet lines; expectations were met instantly. Vibes were good, air temp cool, appetite for fun, high. We left all feeling very full. Nothing beats this feeling.” — Mahsa.

Mahsa, Ella and Eleanor at Raglan
Mahsa, Ella and Eleanor

What does a day surfing together usually look like?

Mahsa: First, a perfect pre-surf coffee, with toast and almond butter. Then weather checks, texts, organising schedules so we can surf with peace of mind. Rushing disturbs the flow of things.

Ella: We will usually be at our bach in Raglan and the morning goes like this: Check cams, decide on a spot — Mahs puts on the playlist and sets the tone. We wax up boards, paddle out together and hoot each other into a few screamers, lots of chats out the back, then we start to talk about food ha ha. Back home to a hot outdoor bath, coffee in the sun — it’s a good feeling.

How did you feel when Mahsa became a surfer?

Ella: It has been a dream come true! A great addition to the Willises in the line-up. I can’t wait for the day the whole family is out there together, there will be many laughs.

How has surfing changed Mahsa?

Ella: Surfing is so good for brain chemistry, that’s why it's addictive. I see it as a huge positive influence in Mahsa’s life. Its time out from a hectic schedule. It's cool how surfing is always on her radar; her week revolves around getting into the ocean. I’ve witnessed the highs and lows — some days she rings to share the pure joy of an epic wave and others the frustrations of leaning — highs and lows, much like life! It has been an exciting new challenge for Mahsa and has given her a new perspective on life.

Ella and Mahsa surfing
Mahsa on the water at Raglan

What are your recommendations for food to fuel and recover from surfing?

Mahsa: Eating après-surf: more coffee, protein green smoothie, avocado on toast. The Piha Store does a good vegan samosa. I like to keep it pretty simple. Dark chocolate and almonds are always a hit.

Ella: Surfing for us revolves around the treats afterwards, good food and coffee is high on the priority list. Your appetite is heightened after a session in the waves and food tastes amazing! My dream post-surf meal would be an organic brown rice bowl, beetroot slaw, tamari tofu, Fruit Forest avo, organic peanut sauce followed by a long black coffee and some dark chocolate. If on the road, a Volare vegetable curry pie is pretty good too!

Where would you like to go on a surf trip together?

Mahsa: Mexico, Costa Rica, Bali, Hawaii. In Aotearoa, Taupotupotu Bay.

Ella: There’s so many spots I’d love to surf with Mahsa! In New Zealand I’d love to surf Te Awanga, Hotwater point, Kuaotunu, Maraenui. Overseas: Indonesia, Mexico, South of France. Anywhere the surf and food is good.

How do you like to dress around surfing?

Mahsa: Lots of cosy layers, good tees, hoodies, bikini, big white shirts, sandals, oil for my face and conditioning spray for my hair.

Ella: I like to feel comfortable and I’m usually in a rush to get to the waves! I throw on a Mahsa Everyday, I love the way the cotton feels, jeans and Birks. I have quite a few good surf towels for changing and countless bikinis. I also love the brand Patagonia.

Mahsa surfing
Ella on the water at Raglan

What products do you use to protect and restore your skin afterwards?

Mahsa: Avasol zinc, Sans [ceuticals] Activator 7 Oil, Sans [ceuticals] Sleep Masque.

What sports or other actives complement surfing?

Mahsa: Meditation, yoga, strength training at gym, massage and warm hot tubs.

What’s your advice for someone who wants to pick up surfing?

Mahsa: Get a coach or take a few lessons. Planning to surf with a friend or friends is always a good way to create a habit.

Ella: Get a few lessons with a good surf school, purchase a quality soft-top longboard like Platino and go out once a week rain, hail or shine. It's about commitment and repetition, you’ll see results.

What boards are you riding?

Mahsa: Mid-length boards — a Thruster 7'6 in which I purchased in Raglan Surf Co; Longboard 8-foot single fin shaped by Dalton Surfboards. I have my eye on acquiring a Big Sun board too.

Ella: 9’2 Miky T longboard, 6’0 Camenzind short board, 5’9 Fish from Tommy Dalton (40th birthday present from the family).

What’s your driving-to-surf playlist or songs you like pre or post surfing?

Mahsa: I like listening to Sultans of Swing, Dire Straits, haha. A classic but really puts me in the right mood.

Ella: Either chilled or drum and bass — depending on the mood and waves!

Mahsa, Ella and Eleanor surfing at Raglan
The end of a good surfing day

A quote to live by?

Mahsa: “Inner peace is the new success.” I like to think about this when I am making most decisions.

Leo Anholts / @surfgirlnz