When faced with hardships, it's never about failing, but about how you react and recover from those failures. Claire'Bevo' Bevilacqua did just that. From her time among the Top 17, to a near three-year hiatus away from pro surfing, Bevo has returned -- and with authority.
She claimed the inaugural Barbados Surf Pro QS3,000 title which pushed her as high as No. 5 on the rankings and restored her as a force to be wary of in 2017. With a renewed fire, Bevo is back with a purpose and making moves. WSL caught up with the Yallingup native to learn more of her comeback saga as she heads into the Los Cabos Open of Surf QS6,000, ranked No. 6.
WSL: Take us back to the beginning, what happened initially that took you away from competing?
Claire Bevilacqua: My main sponsor dropped me and I had just turned thirty. Everything in women's surfing was now about the younger, fresher faces and I felt disheartened and I was very burnt out. I had been traveling on Tour since I was 16, [so] I got a job at the local cafe and I started coaching at the surf school out in front my house in Yallingup. I felt like my time was over to make money as a professional surfer, I fell off the WCT and my sponsor of 14 years stopped paying me overnight -- it all happened at the same time.
What's something that helped get you through those hard times?
I surfed my guts out and I was reacquainted with the love and passion that I had lost over years of losses. I found working with the local youth inspiring and it motivated me to look deeper into my competitive surfing and technique. After putting it all out there and breaking it down things really started to make sense to me again.
I accompanied my new students to national events and it started to bug me watching these heats and not being out there. I got itchy feet and that hunger to be amongst it and battling in the water, performing for the crowd -- it was enticing me.
And this was years later which brings us to your string of results last year, what encouraged that leap back in?
Winter came around and I wanted to get to the warmth. The European summer 2016 QS leg looked like so much fun and an opportunity to travel and surf, so I packed my bags and headed to England. Of the five events I did that summer I won two and made two Semifinals. It was a dream, and basically a wake up call to me that I still had it in me to win heats and that I still have such a competitive fire.
It was a dream, and basically a wake up call to me that I still had it in me to win...I know now I just needed some time off to re-assess where I was at with my life, time at home, time to grow, and to do things other than the Tour.
Looking back, was age ever a factor in your hardships on tour?
I felt a lot of pressure to settle down and make way for the new kids once I had turned thirty. They seemed to want the wins more than me -- I was tired and jaded. I know now I just needed some time off to re-assess where I was at with my life, time at home, time to grow and do other things than the Tour. The Tour raised me and my mentors were the rebels and rockstars of the WSL, I knew nothing else.
Where do you see yourself at now, both mentally and physically?
Now mature and settled, I feel grounded. Many women hit their physical peak in their thirties. I am physically and emotionally stronger than I ever was when I was on the CT. [Back] then I relied solely on talent, attitude and adrenalin. [Now], I finally have the right equipment, I take care of my body and immune system correctly and I have no pressure from sponsors or media to portray a certain image or sexualize myself for promotion. Now that I have strategy and clarity I cannot wait to see what the future holds and I am so grateful to just be a part of it and call it my job, it truly is the dream career.
Tune in live beginning June 6 - 11 to see Bevilacqua take on some of the world's best at the Los Cabos Open of Surf