Pushing the limits with Maria Petersson

A dreamy place to fix your board before a surf session. Photo by: @livepantai

During a mid-afternoon, I decided to take a break and call the Swedish National Surfer, Maria Petersson, to talk about her passion for the cold water surf, her adventures and her interests. The Spanish internet connection wasn’t that great, but it is a risk when you travel to follow the waves - you never know where you are going to end up. You’ve probably seen her already in your Instagram feed, she’s the pretty blond girl that is more than just pretty, but also really talented and passionate about surfing. Any spots surrounded by icy mountains and the challenge of getting in the water make her pleased. Oh, and her vibe in the water is fantastic - she’s simply grateful to be there, connected to nature. Can you find a better chemistry to the nature than hers? 


Do you know anything about surfing in Canada?

I know there is a guy called Pete Devries that takes pictures and he is from Canada. I also met a guy in Western Australia that was from there, he is a surf photographer and he keeps posting beautiful photos from the middle of nowhere, there is really good waves! 


Oh yes, there is! Surfing when you are surrounded by mountains and pine trees is something amazing. 

I used to live in the Arctic during a year and a half. Up there, it’s insane! You just sit there and watch the mountains, its beautiful. Before a surf session, you call all your friends and go with them. We were maybe 16 surfers at the time, and we were always surfing in groups. It is not like here, that when you find a spot you don’t call anyone and keep it for yourself. 

Credit Photo: Edvart Alsos

Credit Photo: Edvart Alsos

 

It is probably the beauty of being in a small place, sharing the stoke! You grew up in Sweden, so how did the passion of surfing found you? 

I didn’t start surfing until I was 18 actually. Me and a friend decided to go to Hossegor for a surf holidays during our last year of high school and I fell in love with it. I thought to myself, “that’s what I want to do”. As soon as school will be over, I will just leave and do this. I went to school for another year and five days after it was done, I worked to get money then flew straight to Australia. Since then, I’ve never really been back to Sweden. I do surf sometimes back home, but I haven’t lived there for a few years now. 

Why did you decide to come back if you could have stayed in Australia? It seems like the waves are perfect over there!

It was only because of the visa, it was for a year. You could do two years, but you had to go work on a farm, so I decided instead to go another year to study! I love that country.

I am quite impressed that you are such a talented surfer, but learned it so late. Were you thinking that surfing would become your life while growing up?

At all, before my world was gymnastic! I was competing quite a lot and I never though of surfing. Surfing did take over my gymnastic, I almost don’t do it anymore. Surfing limits you in a way because it runs your mind. I will never travel to a big city because I want to go surfing. Since I was 19, I’ve been living in places where you can surf and it is my main focus. It is like a disease, you need to be somewhere that allow you to surf - it controls your actions! 

Totally! It controls everything in your life.

I was telling a friend the other day that it is so strange, I lived in the Canaries for a while, almost every winter for 5 years, and last April I moved to Cornwall in England. Everyone kept saying “how can you move to new places and give up everything without being scared?”.
It’s so hard to explain that when you have surfing, everywhere is like home. You don’t feel like a stranger. 

That as long you are in the water, you will be okay.

Yes, it is seriously not that hard. When you share the same interest as people, you will meet new friends easily, and our common interest is surfing. 

It still takes some guts to do it, which can be hard for some people. What are you doing in Cornwall now? 

I was working before, then I started school. Now I do it online, I study health with a Sweden school so it allows me to be anywhere in the world. 

That’s the best. Do you have any particular goals toward surfing? We are always seeing you on the internet and you seem to enjoy your life at its fullest! 

Hmm. I’ve been competing a bit and I will probably compete more, but only to challenge myself. Competing is a whole different sport, it works for some people, but not for me. I don’t want to be disappointed. I want to go surfing for myself because I love being in the water and have fun. I do it because I want to be better than what I am now. 

We definitely see you enjoy surfing, always in the water with a big smile! So, I believe you would like to work in the health industry then? 

I don’t know what I want to do. My main dream is definitely to live in a place where you can go surf before work, then work, come back and surf again. I am just happy that way and we will see what will be next. There’s certain people that keep talking about what they want to do as a job and their life end up being their job. I don’t want that. I just want to be happy, haha! 


It has been almost 10 years that surfing came into your life, and you probably still dream of some places. Where do you want to go next?

I haven’t gone to Bali yet, which is surprising, so there, and California as well for sure! I am so scared that if I go to one of these places, I wouldn’t want to come back. 

 

It’s quite impressive to see you enjoy the ocean as much as you do and be talented at it. You’re sharing the joy of connecting yourself to the sea and it is nice to remind ourselves that no matter where you are from, you can surf as much as you want if you are aware that you can!

It’s hard sometimes when you are not from a place where surfing is because when you get home, people often ask “when are you going to start a real life?”. That’s for that reason it's nice to live in a place where people share the same interests as you. It’s funny when you lead this life, that your goal isn’t to get a job that is necessary well-paid, and you go back home to hear that. I don’t go home asking them when they are going to start living their life fully. I love it in the Arctic because there are a lot of inspiring people and they challenge themselves with surfing even though it’s freezing up there. They even go surfing when there is a snowstorm! 

Credit Photo: Edvart Alsos

Credit Photo: Edvart Alsos

Credit Photo: Michael Jepsen

Credit Photo: Michael Jepsen

Credit Photo: Michael Jepsen

Credit Photo: Michael Jepsen