Lucy Small is a journalist, academic and surfer from the deep south of Western Australia who has over the the past few years split her time between Sydney, Byron Bay and Southern Africa while competing on the WSL Longboard Tour.
Chloe Calmon looks relaxed on my screen, coming in from Rio de Janeiro. I'd wanted to interview her for a while, curious about what goes on in the mind of one of the longboard World Tour's fiercest competitors.
One of the few elite-level female Brazilian surfers, Chloe's dominance has skirted a World Title, finishing second multiple times since she qualified for the tour, 11 years ago.
It's funny though, when I chat to Chloe I suddenly feel uncomfortable defining her career by the almost-wins she's had, as it dawns on me that her career has been much more than that. Fresh back in the water after two months of lockdown, Chloe is forthcoming when I ask her about what it was like growing up in Rio:
"Growing up in Brazil, it was really easy to follow the sports path because everyone is always outside, running, swimming, surfing and playing soccer so we live a very strong outdoor lifestyle. I had this in my family, my parents loved the beach and I was close to the beach and so for me it was easy." she says.
"When I was 12, my dad was already a longboarder at the time, I took his longboard for a ride one day and I usually say it was love at first wave because I totally fell in love with longboarding." She says.
Chloe started competing soon after taking up longboarding, and quickly qualified for what was then a single World Title event held at Biarritz. At just 15, she faced reigning World Champion Jen Smith in her first heat of the event, a heat that would eventuate as a watershed moment for Chloe:
"From that point I went home and I decided that I wanted to be a World Champion and I wanted to be one of the best in the world. I've always been super dedicated and really living this as my main goal, my main life goal for now," Chloe says.
While we have seen a flood of Brazilians reach the most elite levels of surfing, Chloe remains one of the few top-level Brazilian women across the suite of World Tours. Chloe explains however, that while the culture of surfing in Brazil has largely favoured men, this is slowly changing and she is seeing more and more women and girls in the water.
"Nowadays, female surfing is way stronger," Chloe says.
"It has a lot more girls surfing, because of the girls on the front run that broke boundaries, that broke stereotypes and now female surfing is very popular in Brazil.
"I think that surfing is so democratic because it's open to everyone. It's not limited to gender or class or colour or age, everyone is very welcome in the water, that's what I try to stand for.
"Maybe one of these days that I am surfing by myself and I am the only girl out, maybe another girl is on the beach and she's watching the waves and she's kind of scared to go there. But when she sees another girl out having fun, then she gets ready to paddle out and surf next to me," says Chloe.
At the end of 2019, the World Title was hers to lose but it was clinched out from underneath her by Honolua Blomfield in windy conditions in Taiwan. I wonder how it's possible to bounce back and take on the tour again the following year, but Chloe articulates a kind of resilience that is telling of why she has been so dominant over her career.
"Every year on tour makes me so much more knowledgeable and makes me more mature, not only in my surfing but in learning about myself, my emotions and my feelings and everything." Chloe says.
"If you want to be an athlete and you want to compete, you must accept that this is like a rollercoaster of emotions all the time. One day you're winning and you're on the top of your game, and then the next day it all changes. I think that's a big reminder that although we can train, we can predict the conditions and get the best boards for it, we are never in control of things." She says.
"After Taiwan last year I was pretty sad that I got so close and that I didn't win the title but it was so nice to see how far the sport has come."
With a diverse selection of boards in her arsenal and a capacity for deep introspective reflection, it seems Chloe is just inches away from reaching what she has been chasing since she decided she would one day be the best, all those years ago.
And in light of Chloe Calmons journey through competing, the Cuervo Surf Ranch Classic will showcase some of the worlds best longboarders surfing with state-of-the art technology. The specialty event will broadcast on Sunday, October 18th at 5pm ET on WorldSurfLeague.com and Fox Sports.