Babes & Bruises: Erika Drolet

We're getting girls who ride to tell us about epic bails and show us their bloody kneecaps. No pain, no gain, right?

Girls who ride know that failing is part of the game. After all, no pain, no gain, right? So welcome to “Babes & Bruises”: a series where we ask riders to show us their brag-worthy bruises, tell us how they went down and explain how they kept pushing afterwards, bloody kneecaps be damned.

For our second interview, we linked up with 28-year old Erika Drolet from Montreal, Canada. Erika’s the co-founder of the Salty Souls Experience, an all-girl surf/yoga adventure that is all about at amping up women’s confidence in and out of the water. She’s also a certified yogi and a pretty mean shredder. We hit her up to hear more about her recent surf trip to the dreamy Mentawai Islands in Indonesia, where she scored some epic waves and a couple of badass lacerations on her back.

GIRLS ARE AWESOME: Hi Erika. How did you get into surfing and how long have you been surfing for?

Erika Drolet: I first learnt to surf on a trip to Australia, when I was 19 years old. But after that, because I was living in inland Canada, I’d only surf here and there—once or twice a year when on vacation. There was no progress. I actually feel like I only started surfing three years ago, when I moved away from Canada. Since then, I’ve been spending my time between Indonesia, El Salvador and Ecuador, surfing all year round. Surfing demands incredible commitment and a hell of a lot of patience. There is no express way to progress. You have to surf on an almost daily basis, whatever the conditions.

What do you like to ride (longboard, shortboard or some hybrid thing in-between)? Fast and hollow waves or fat and friendly?

I shortboard and love powerful left-handers that peel perfectly into a long but steady wall that allows you to cruise up and down, and up and down.

So, tell us about where and how you went down. What happened?

This summer, the girls and I headed on a surf trip to the Mentawai Islands in the far far west of Indonesia. Out of the water, this place looks like a cotton-candy paradise. But in reality, taking a trip to the Mentawais means signing up for heavy-duty waves that break in shallow water over an unforgiving reef. We’re not professionals; we knew that at some point we would most likely have to donate some blood to marine life.

There wasn’t a day that I exited the water without one or two reef cuts. But shit really went down on my last day in paradise. At that point, after days of surfing the same break, I felt pretty confident. I knew I could do this with only my bikini on and all my skin exposed. My first problem was that I lost one of my contact lenses after a legendary air-drop face plant (i.e. falling off a wave, face first.) So I asked my friend to call me when the next good wave would come so I could exit. Because with only one eye, I had no perspective; a wave looks like it’s 2D until it’s really close by. She called, I paddled hard, but didn’t get in. When I turned around, there was a massive set coming my way. I got over the first wave, and the second. And then the third one just wiped me out like there was no tomorrow, sending me straight to the bottom. My bathing suit got stuck in the reef, so I ended up getting my back dragged over the corals like a rag doll, until my bikini finally snapped and freed me. I paddled in with one boob out and a full bleeding back.

How long were you out?

The good news was that this happened on our last day, so I didn’t lose out on any surf sessions. However, I had to travel for 50 hours on two boats and three flights with my flesh exposed. I’ll save you the details. My back took about a month to fully heal. There is something about the way that the reef cuts and burns your skin that leaves the affected area very fragile and sensitive, even if the cuts aren’t really deep. Luckily, I was back in Canada during that month and therefore out of the sun and saltwater and in a clean environment. The cuts are now almost invisible. I’ve got heaps of smaller cuts on my knees and feet that left way darker marks.

Do you have any advice or healing tips for our fellow riders out there?

Get yourself some Jelonet, a paraffin gauze dressing. This thing regenerates skin almost overnight! It’s super impressive.

Thanks, Erika.