A Summer of Sofia

I think I ran into Sofia Mulanovich exactly four times last summer so it's probably a bit overambitious to claim last July and August as the Summer of Sofia. To me though, it could have been something as little as one chance encounter and I would have titled this entry the same.

Sofia is a legend, pure and simple. The entire country of Peru stands behind its first ASP World Champion and although it's been a few years since that title, Sofia's stature in the surfing world continues to grow and grow. I have always been a fan of hers and ever since JettyGirl was launched in 2006, I've hoped that our paths would cross one day. In 2009, it finally happened...

Chance Encounter #1 - One of my good friends, a Puerto Rico legend himself, was out here last summer when the film "Dear and Yonder" rolled into town. I knew he had a crush on Sofia and we had heard that she would be at the premiere. Like a couple of dorky, star-struck teenagers, we approached Sofia in front of the La Paloma and asked if my friend could have his photo taken with her. She graciously accepted and my friend was on Cloud 9 the rest of the evening.

Chance Encounter #2 - While standing on the beach at last summer's US Open, Sofia approached me before a warm up surf and said something to the effect of, "Hi Chris, I'll be staying here for a while so let's get together and shoot." What??? Sofia Mulanovich knew my name? Actually, looking back at it now, that's the only thing I remember about the contest.

Chance Encounter #3 - Surprisingly cold Lowers. I had sent her a text message that we'd be at Lowers and lo and behold who should show up but Sofia, Paige Hareb and Ornella Pellizzari. One of the biggest differences between shooting regular rippers and surfers from the WCT is the sheer speed in which they surf with...and it's especially apparent when I'm shooting from the water. On Sofia's first wave I knew I'd need to step up my game as she blew above the lip, rotated and disappeared down the line before I had a chance to focus the camera.

Chance Encounter #4 - This one was planned. After Sofia left me a voicemail, we decided to meet up in Oside. After a 15 minute session we decided to pack up and caravan down south a bit. Hours and untold miles later we ended up at a ridiculous spot in Carlsbad. Knee-high and blown out, the girls made the most of it but the highlight of the day was when the lifeguard kicked Sofia out of the water for swimming in the surf area...which at the time was only populated by Paige and Ornella.

There you have it, the Summer of Sofia. No double-page photo spreads, no in-depth interviews, no earth-shattering revelations, but to me the summer was huge because I was finally able to meet one of my favorite surfers of all time. And in contrast to the bitter disappointment of meeting legends who are actually kooks with good PR people, Sofia is the real deal...an incredible ambassador for her country, a fun-loving soul, and truly one of the best surfers I've ever seen up close and in person.

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Much of the time at JettyGirl, stories and photo galleries arrive more as snippets instead of full-on features. This blog provides a perfect place to give those items a new home. Thank you for your continued support of our little surf mag :)

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