Life on the West Coast with Janiece Walker
Janiece Walker is nearly 21 and has grown up on the West Coast of Australia where the waves are plenty and girls are ripppingggggg. She’s always lived on the beach in a quiet suburb north of Perth called Mullaloo. With a solid point break know by the super groms as “Mullaz point”, which Janiece says “when its on.. its on!” this west coast girl is a surf coach and lover of the sea like you’ve never seen.
If you can’t be conveyed her ultra level of stoke through these words make sure you stay tuned for Janiece’s regular coaching updates and tips! She’ll definitely leave an impression on your day!
How did surfing become a part of your life and what part does it play now? Admittedly I was a full time Surf Lifesaving Clubbie, part time all-day wettie wearer surf grom when I was 12 years old. Though this was the point in my life when surfing really became the ‘be all and end all’. Prior to this I had been a clubbie at my local SLSC for 3 or so years, training 10 times a week for the board and ski events. I was pretty lucky to have a lifestyle that helped me understand and connect with the ocean, and learn how to use surf craft prior to learning how to surf. It was a massive step up compared to the average beginner surfer who is so unfamiliar with the whole package of surfing! Once I did my first surf lesson, I was hooked!
I chose my high school based on which one had the best surfing program as a subject.. and from then on there was no looking back. Now surfing has become my life. It has shaped me into the person I am; it has impacted the mind-set I have everyday, the people I surround myself with and more importantly connect with the most.
Whether I’m surfing or surf coaching, I am in the water every single day no matter what. But what I think I have realized over the last few years is that it’s not all about the surfing; I think what it really comes down too is my love for the ocean. The feeling of being immersed by it just gives me an equal balance of froth and calmness. It really balances me out, a fair equilibrium.
One hilarious memory you have at the beach or in the water? My mind kind of just imploded whilst reading this question and sippin’ on my coffee.. Well I don’t think writing this is going to come off that hilarious as such, I think its definitely one of those “had to be there moments”, but hopefully an activity that you may be able to relate too..
Setting the scene: Black clouds hovering, 3.5-4 meter SOLID waves, wind about 40 knot onshore and myself and my best mate. All wetsuited up, hair strands violating our mouth everytime we said a word with no potential to even lay horizontal as the wind kept us vertical.. Laughing hysterically. Body bashing was just SHOUTING our names. Couldn’t get more perfect conditions if we tried. Im just going to leave it at that, but yeah it was one pretty epic afternoon to say the least!
How did you get involved with coaching? So, earlier I mentioned that I chose my high school based on the surfing program they had a subject.. Well that surfing program was year round, once a week before school, with Surfing WA. 3 years of a surfing program, weekly, allowed me to form a great friendship with many of the coaches at surfing WA and it also allowed me to see the incredible happiness they seemed to show at ‘work’ which made me go “YEP! That’s what I want my first job to be”.
As a 15 year old grom, I was determined to make it work! Luckily, that year the age limit to be a surf coach dropped from 18 to 16.. so I only had a year before I could make it reality. I did my surf coaching course ASAP and instead of paying the $350 and doing 20 hours of shadow coaching (because I didn’t have the money haha), I did 50 hours unpaid instead to pay off my course (don’t know if I was supposed to say that, but truth!). From memory it felt like 10 hours, I enjoyed it that much!
Once I was 16 I was ready have that pay rollin’ into my empty bank account. Frothing that I was on 15 bucks an hour when I was 16 doing a job that I LOVED, and my mates were on 9 bucks an hour at IGA hating every second!!
What’s your favourite break in WA? That is also suchhh a tough one! As a kid growing up, I will always remember this one surf I had where I felt like I had the best surf of my life, even though it wasn’t actually haha but that’s what it felt like. It was a remote little beach break about an hour and a half north of perth, where you need a 4WD to get into. Its called bombing range, and this day it was just PUMPING and PERFECT for my level of surfing at the time. Though in the last few years ive really fallen in love with Slingshots and Lefties (ellensbrook and gracetown stretch of coast in the southwest).
What’s the most rewarding part of coaching? The most rewarding part of coaching would have to be the massive stoke on peoples faces when everything just clicks, or when a little surf grom realizes that the ocean isn’t the enemy and their confidence in the water just skyrockets! I guess just seeing people feel how incredible the ocean is. Nothing makes me feel warmer!!
Are there any girls that you coach that you can see in the wct in the future? I’ve coached many girls over the years.. heaps that I can see ripping in the future because they are so naturally talented! But the girls that stand out to me are the ones who not only rip, but have the most enthusiastic attitude towards surfing and the ocean!
There are very few actually that I have come across with that 10 point combo. The one girl who comes straight to mind, came to mind and ultimately put a smile straight on my face. Her name is Skyla and she is about 10 years old, she was a young girl I coached a few weeks ago.. My goodness she is such a gem!! In my eyes, she is the most incredible young girl with such a beautiful energy and genuine passion for the water, and ironically she is sooo naturally talented! She has everything going for her towards being great, so I definatly have to say she is the girl who I could see in the WCT in the future!!!
Give us 3 tips or techniques that could improve anyone’s surfing or surf fitness?
NUMBER ONE— Before you go for a surf, or before you jump in the water.. make one goal for yourself that you want to achieve by the end of the session. It can be anything! From ‘having fun and just enjoying the water surrounding me’ to ‘nailing my roundhouse cutty with enough speed and control so that I can get into the next section’, and everything in between!
Its important to not feel disheartened when you get out of the water because the conditions didn’t provide the surf session that you wanted. If you assess what the conditions are doing before you get in you can make a goal accordingly. For example for beginners if it is howling onshore with 4ft closeouts, causing super powerful whitewash to compete against; make your goal to be to practice your pushup (the first step of standing up) with control of your board. If you make that your goal, its achievable but still challenging, and chances are you will walk away from that “terrible” surf feeling like it wasn’t a complete waste of time and actually feel good about yourself.
Its important to be realistic in surfing, because it is so affected by the environmental conditions.
NUMBER TWO— There is a reason why there are so many ‘surf and yoga retreats’ around the world; there is a reason why they go hand in hand. Get into yoga! If you want to feel better not only physically, but mentally towards your surfing I highly recommend making that a regular practice.. especially for all you men out there! Your just not as genetically gifted as women haha.
Don’t get ahead of yourself. One of the most common causes of peoples surfing ability to plateau or go backwards is if they are trying to run before they can walk. Its important you develop the right habbits, or to be more specific, to correctly develop your muscle memory in your learning phase of surfing! This is the phase where you need to use a BIG board with BOUYANCY and LENGTH and WIDTH!! So you can make mistakes and not be punished.
NUMBER THREE— Making mistakes is all apart of the learning process, but you need to be given the chance to correct your mistakes so you can improve. Though learning to surf on a small, narrow and thin fiberglass board isn’t going to allow a second chance.
Myself for example, learnt on a 8ft soft-top board, then progressed down to a 7ft soft-top after 6 months or so (mind you I picked it up fairly quick, so remember everyone is different), then progressed onto a 7’2 epoxy mini mal, then progressed onto a 6’8 NSP epoxy, THEN after these 4 board progressions (made in a solid 2 YEARS of surfing) I started to progress to smaller shortboards to allow myself more movement.. but I was well and truly ready!
I constantly see people trying to learn to surf, straight-up, on a 5’8 fibreglass short board and it’s just a no-brainer.
What’s in your quiver at the moment and which is your go-to board? (shapers and specs) To be honest I have only got a few board in the quiver at the moment.. A 5’8, 5’6 and a short-ass little nugget 5’4 which needs repairing.
I’ve been meaning to get a longboard for awhile now, but when you work at Surfing WA one of the perks is you have pretty good access to longboards and fun soft-tops, so it doesn’t exactly top your urgency list. My go-to board would definatly be my Rusty magic door 5’8 shaped by Aido Wheeler.
I’ve had it repaired probably 6 times and it is still going strong, it just works for me and I have travelled all over the world with it. It is just reliable in ALL conditions, from fun Portugal to heavy Indonesia to grovelly Perth.. Its just my all round safe board
Who is a woman of the sea who you admire and why? The answer to this question would probably differ in different phases of my life, and if you asked me this question 3 months ago I would have said someone different. But a month or so ago I met a beautiful girl called Sarah Yani Vann-Sander and she is just such an inspiration, particular to me in the phase of life that I am in right now. She has just achieved so much for her age, and has such an incredible and wise mind-set. Though the most beautiful quality about her is her humble and pure energy that she gives constantly to everything she does. Sarah is a real motivation for me and I admire the qualities that she possesses beyond words! – Though any and every woman of the sea inspires me.