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Lorena Fica, multi-champion surfer: “Arica has tremendous potential.”

Lorena Fica, multi-champion surfer: “Arica has tremendous potential.”

By: Hernan Claro - 19 February, 2024

Lorena Fica

One of the protagonists in the web series Extremas, Lorena Fica praised beaches in Arica as perfect for surfing. Additionally, she offered advice to those interested in taking up this sport.

At the age of 11, Lorena Fica grabbed a surfboard and never let it go. The six-time national champion, hailing from Arica, has become one of the leading figures in the sport in Chile, riding waves from around the world.

After participating in the web series Extremas, Lorena Fica explained why her hometown is a surfing paradise and offered advice to those who want to engage in the activity.

Extremas is Chile Travel’s new web series, featuring Chilean female athletes sharing their stories of effort following significant achievements in sports disciplines and how they connect with specific destinations and territories in Chile.

What can the audience expect from Extremas?

Something completely different from a conventional tourism advertisement. These are landscapes introduced by individuals who have unlocked their potential without invading or contaminating them.

In beautiful places, we’re typically accustomed to building hotels or houses and encroaching on the space. But in this series, it’s about making the most of nature itself -the waves, the mountains, the snow- by engaging in different types of sports.

How do you mentally prepare before riding the waves?

On a normal day, it’s about escaping a bit from the routine, the phone, or the desk. It’s something that helps me feel good every day.

But if it’s a big wave or a day with rough seas, there’s a mental preparation: I have to assess the situation carefully, know how much risk I’m taking, and whether I have the necessary skills for that type of break or wave. Additionally, I have to consider if I know the area well and if I am with the right people or have the proper equipment.

Once I’m in the water, as a sportsperson, I’m not very good at calculating my decisions. Adrenaline often kicks in once I’m already in the water, and I want to catch the biggest wave or take more risks. That’s why what has helped me the most is assessing everything before going into the sea because once in the water, it’s like there are no limits.

What sets Arica apart from other surf beaches?

Arica is a paradise because we have different types of breaks. On one hand, we have a beach break like Las Machas, where both beginners and professionals can make the most of the beach.  We also have waves suitable for intermediate levels at the Ex-Isla del Alacrán and for advanced surfers, we have El Gringo, which is a tubular break.

Riding tubes requires an extensive knowledge of breaks, tides, and technique, so there’s everything to take your skills to the next level. Then we have El Buey, which can reach up to 12 meters. 

In its surfing culture, Chile stands out for its big wave sea. Many Chilean figures, such as Ramón (Navarro) or (Cristian) Merello, have awarded us international recognition because they have caught enormous waves.

We also have El Rancio, a sector in Arenillas Negras, which is frequented by bodyboarders, where Arica also stands out internationally, so I believe that this variety of waves should be included more into our tourism, culture, and education.

What would you say to those who want to surf?

We are in the Pacific Ocean, one of the strongest seas in the world, and in Chile, several beaches are very exposed.

To those who are afraid, either because of what they think might happen or because they don’t know how to handle situations, I would say that surfing helps to control that. You learn about breaks, currents, where you can swim safely, where you can surf, or how to rescue someone from the sea.

Moreover, how to educate families. For example, for people with children and nephews, it’s important to teach them from a young age that we live in a coastal city.  It’s so crucial that it should be taught even at schools, at least to know about currents.

How could we progress in the inclusion of women in sports?

At the Pan American Games, we became aware of the quality of athletes we have in Chile. For a girl, it’s inspiring to see a woman succeed, so I believe that motivates many women to engage in sports.

And I think it’s crucial to promote this in schools. If we make a simple analysis of developed countries, I feel that overall development goes hand in hand with sports development. Putting more emphasis on sports and combining it with education will give us a higher-quality society.

What was filming Extremas like?

I felt very comfortable. I enjoy participating in these types of projects and showcasing my city. Arica has tremendous potential, but I know this because I live here, and I feel that very few people, even in the same city, are aware of it.

Discussions are just starting to focus on the Chinchorro mummies or the Anzota Caves. Many people don’t even know what the San Marcos Cathedral is, which was designed by Eiffel, and there are people from Europe who come to see it.

I would love tourism to become the main economic resource in Arica, alongside agriculture. We still have a lot to exploit.

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