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Sormarie Nieves, La Chica del Encanto by Amanda Rigney

Sormarie Nieves, La Chica del Encanto, JettyGirl Online Surf Magazine.

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Sormarie Nieves: La Chica del Encanto by Amanda Rigney - Photos by Chris Grant
JettyGirl Locals, Legends & Pros

sormarie nieves, cardiff, california. photo by chris grant of


"Seeing people catch their first wave, and their big smiles when they're actually doing it makes you really happy. It's cool to share that with someone."

--Sormarie Nieves


We were really pleased when writer Amanda Rigney contacted us about doing a little story on Puerto Rico's Sormarie Nieves. One of my personal favorite people, Sormarie has been a vocal supporter of JettyGirl since the beginning and each time I happen upon her JettyGirl-stickered car in the beach parking lot, I know that a day full of smiles, laughs and fun waves will follow. Sormarie's an awesome person, a fantastic surfer and a perfect subject for our first installment of Locals, Legends & Pros. --Chris Grant

In women's surfing, some of the girls who shine the brightest aren't necessarily those in the spotlight. Case in point, Sormarie Nieves, Puerto Rico's de facto goodwill ambassador and a familiar face in San Diego County lineups. With a life-long love of the ocean, adventurous spirit, and enthusiasm that allows her to make friends wherever she goes, Sormarie has created a surf-centric lifestyle that includes a mix of travel, water time and philanthropy.

Despite growing up in Puerto Rico's crystalline waters and trying surfing a handful of times, it wasn't until Sormarie relocated to Southern California that she really got hooked. Around age 15 she jumped at the opportunity for a change of scenery and a chance to better her English, and moved to Pacific Beach to live with her sister. With Tourmaline's gentle, rolling peaks within walking distance, most free moments were spent at the beach and a bona fide longboard stylist emerged.

After another minor relocation to the Cardiff/Encinitas area, Sormarie slipped easily into the North County surf scene and found her stride as a surf instructor and shop manager. Her approachable and easy going disposition made connecting with people easy and, as head instructor for Linda Benson's SurfHER surf school, Sormarie spent five years teaching all ages the art of catching and riding waves.

"Seeing people catch their first wave, and their big smiles when they're actually doing it makes you really happy," she remembers. "It's cool to share that with someone."

Since 2003, Sormarie has also been on double duty as assistant manager of affiliated surf shops Leucadia Surf Shop and Surf Zone, in Oceanside. She counts meeting people who are happy and stoked as a high point of the job, along with guiding new surfers toward smart equipment choices.

Sormarie has also found time to explore new shores and search out waves away from Southern California. Multiple trips to Mexico and a couple of Hawaiian holidays have helped to sharpen her skills. Sormarie considers going home to Puerto Rico a vacation, too, and a chance to capitalize on warm water and stronger surf. She also got a taste of the European surf scene on a 2006 trip to France to compete in the Women's World Longboard Championships in Biarritz; but in true soul surfer fashion, she counts the travel, not the competition, as the high point of the trip. Topping her must-visit list is Noosa, though laughing, she says, "anywhere in Australia will do!"

Even with a full schedule, Sormarie's passion isn't reserved solely for surfing and adventure. She spends as much time as possible working with the Little Star Foundation, an organization dedicated to helping terminally ill and underprivileged children through positive experiences and financial support. Acting as chaperone, and sometimes translator, Sormarie participates in retreats designed to let kids be kids while relating to other children with similar experiences. She says its a privilege to spend time with the children and finds their optimism to be a constant reminder of the importance of having a thankful heart.

"They are just inspiring and make me realize how lucky I am," she says.

Whether giving back, globetrotting or sliding a few glassy ones at her favorite break, Sormarie does it all with an unrivaled zest for life. Her good natured island charm and enthusiastic approach to life come across through her quickness to laugh and kindness toward others. Currently pursuing a college education and immersing herself in a broad spectrum of subjects, Sormarie enjoys gathering knowledge and weighing her options for the future. As she carries forward, following her own path, one thing is certain: Sormarie Nieves will continue to do Puerto Rico and women's surfing proud.

Additional Resources:

Donald Takayama

Little Star Foundation

Humanitarian Wave





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Caption Index - Photos by Chris Grant /

1. This was such a fun day! Trading peaks with her friends, Sormarie Nieves picks off a lined-up little peeler.
2. It takes a pretty good day to pull Sormarie from her beloved Pipes. On this morning though, Oceanside was the call.
3. So much of our surfing lives are spent simply paddling back and forth. Sormarie strokes out for another memory.
4. Cross-stepping at Cardiff, Sormarie lines up a glassy inside section.
5. Sormarie gets her toes over on a clean winter day at her favorite spot.
6. Good-natured and so fun to be around, Sormarie finds time to smile even when coming in for a lost surfboard.
7. A nice backside noseride from Sormarie Nieves.
8. It's difficult to find decent backdrops in Southern California but Sormarie's spot has one.
9. Sormarie with her new (at the time) prized possession, a meticulously shaped Donald Takayama nine-footer.
10. In her time as an instructor with Linda Benson's surf school, Sormarie passed along the gift of surfing to hundreds of eager kids.
11. Cutting back across Cardiff Reef's inside section, Sormarie's stylish approach is eye-pleasing even in gutless conditions.
12. Cross-stepping her way through the inside section in Oceanside, Sormarie Nieves lights up an early morning session.
13. It's a requirement at Pipes to master these types of stalling set-up turns between soft sections of the wave.
14. A beautiful mistake on a late evening session at Pipes, my flash didn't fire and the result is my favorite photo of Sormarie.


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