Vahine Fierro: The Rising Star of Polynesian Surfing

Interview with Vahine Fierro – 10-minute read.

At just 24 years old, Vahine Fierro, hailing from the beautiful island of Huahine, has already made waves in the world of professional surfing. Her impressive achievements include being crowned the junior world champion in 2017, clinching the title for the best female tube in 2019, and becoming the first Tahitian female surfer to qualify for the Olympics in 2024. Recently, she secured victory at the prestigious Shiseido Tahiti Pro, etching her name in the annals of surf history. 

In this exclusive interview, we have the opportunity to delve deeper into the journey of Vahine Fierro, learning about her motivations, inspirations, and experiences that have shaped her into the remarkable athlete and role model she is today.


From a family tradition to fierce passion.

 Vahine’s journey into the world of surfing began at the young age of 5, guided by her parents who instilled their love for the sport. What started as a familial pastime soon blossomed into a burning passion for Vahine, especially after her sisters joined in, adding a new dimension to her surfing experience. Surfing became her sanctuary, a place where she could escape the pressures of school and find solace in the rhythm of the waves.

Moving to Tahiti at 14 to attend high school marked a pivotal moment for Vahine, as it was there that she delved into competitive surfing. The thrill of competition fueled her growth, challenging her to constantly push beyond her limits and believe in boundless dreams. Through wins and losses alike, Vahine learned to embrace defeat as a stepping stone towards personal growth, viewing every setback as a valuable lesson in resilience.

“In 2021, I came close to qualifying for the Olympics despite facing COVID-related setbacks and enduring a tough period of quarantine in a foreign land. Battling long-standing menstrual issues that severely impacted my performance, I turned to traditional Chinese medicine and deepened my understanding of my body. Through conquering these health hurdles, I not only emerged stronger but also transformed this adversity into a powerful life lesson, becoming a source of inspiration for others through my story of resilience and self-discovery.”


Vahine found herself drawn to the tranquil village of Teahupoo for her training, appreciating its untamed beauty and rustic charm that reminded her of the idyllic island life she cherished in Huahine. Teahupoo demands respect, kindness, and communal spirit. She learned valuable lessons about the importance of respect and sharing, both with the villagers and this powerful wave that defines the location.

Hava’e, known for its extreme power, served as a harsh yet rewarding teacher for Vahine. She recognized the need to approach the wave with confidence and humility, understanding that taming it required a deep connection and a mutual respect. The lessons offered by Teahupoo went beyond surfing techniques; they encompassed a profound understanding of engaging with a force of nature and adapting to its volatile moods. It taught her resilience, adaptability, and the significance of maintaining healthy relationships, whether with the villagers or with the ocean itself.

“Teahupoo Victory: It was a dream finally realized after years of striving. When I won, it felt like a collective achievement – the cheers of the spectators on boats, the support near and far, made me feel like I hadn’t done it alone. It was thanks to my community, my culture, the mana of my ancestors. There was a special connection with the wave, the village, the mountain, all contributing to my success. The fact that I could share this win with all Polynesians made it truly special.”

Vahine Fierro, a torchbearer:

Our local athlete sees herself as a torchbearer for her people, embodying the delicate balance between being nurturing and fierce, traits deeply rooted in Polynesian heritage. She recognizes the warrior spirit inherited from her ancestors, who lived in harmony with nature, honed their instincts, and survived through adaptability and strength.

By sharing her experiences and achievements, Vahine uplifts the Polynesian identity, portraying her people as not just gentle and welcoming but also as tenacious warriors capable of thriving on the world stage. Facing the dangers posed by challenging surf conditions, Vahine’s passion for surfing transcends mere thrill-seeking. It is a daily commitment to improvement, a dedication to representing her culture, and a driving force to pave the way for younger Polynesian surfers. Through her actions, she not only inspires the younger generation but also proudly showcases the depth of passion, energy, and resilience that define the Polynesian spirit.

“Two years ago at Teahupoo,  being submerged under big waves and facing the threat of suffocation, I learned a crucial lesson – that life can change in an instant. This harrowing experience inspired me to integrate breath-hold exercises into my daily routine, setting me on a path of mental and physical preparedness for any challenge that comes my way.

Surf for a cause:

Currently, volunteering in the ngo Keep A Breast, where she serves as an ambassador for breast cancer prevention, collaborating with the Tahitian association Les Amazones. Having witnessed her auntie battling this disease, she experienced firsthand the physical and emotional toll it takes, understanding the profound impact it can have on one’s identity and relationships. Recognizing the importance of early detection and prevention in combating cancer, she works alongside organizations that have developed an app enabling regular breast self-examinations to detect abnormalities promptly. Leveraging her influence, she advocates for prioritizing health, believing it empowers individuals to pursue their aspirations and live their lives to the fullest.

To conclude:

In a world where challenges are met head-on and victories celebrated as communal achievements, Vahine Fierro stands as a beacon of inspiration, a testament to the power of passion, perseverance, and pride in one’s roots. Her journey embodies the essence of a true waterwoman, transcending boundaries both in the surf and in the hearts of those who look up to her.

« To aspiring champions: Dedicate yourself physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Seek mental support, embrace different training methods, and learn from experienced mentors like Jérémy Florès. Push your limits, challenge yourself, and trust your instincts. Women, especially, should listen to their bodies and aspirations, knowing they have the power to excel in any field. Embrace challenges, aim high, and inspire others with your courage and determination. »

All pictures: courtesy of Vahine Fierro