Part 3 of a series of 5 by Flynn Sheridan
Flynn: Tell us how you got involved in Second Life (SL) surfing. What surfing experiences do you have in RL?
Cierra: I was surfing soon after joining Second Life. At first, I would stand on the beach and watch the surfers. After maybe a week of watching I got the nerve up to try it. I don’t know why I was so intimidated by the surfers, I have never meet a friendlier bunch of people… I didn’t really take lessons or ask anyone how to surf in general, I kinda figured out the basics on my own, but whenever I saw something that wowed me, I asked, “How the hell did you do that?” I still do, lol. At first I was frustrated because I wasn’t very good – okay, I was horrible – but I took it as a challenge and was determined to “master” it. If anyone goes back and looks at old competition results, you will see I never made it out of the preliminary heats. And although I may have been frustrated with my performance, I sure loved being with everyone at the competition. I still feel that way – about it being a challenge and be determined to do well, and loving being out there in the line-up with everyone. I still haven’t mastered it, but I am much better than I was. For a while, I took a break from competing. But I can’t resist a challenge, so when I started competing again, I spent a lot of time, a lot of time, on the board just paddling out and catching waves over and over again until I felt comfortable with what I was doing and had confidence that at least I would not embarrass myself.
As for RL, let’s just say I am an armchair surfer. I love surfing! I follow the ASP and watch as many competitions as I can. And argue with the judges scores. I guess I am a surfing groupy, lol. (Did you know there’s an app for that?) Yes, I have been on a surfboard in RL. Let’s just say I am still in the learning stage. But given the chance, this is another challenge I will take on. SL has given me the opportunity to do something I love in RL but don’t often have the chance to get to do.
Flynn: How long have you been competing in SLSA competitions? Do you participate in other competitions? What is your favorite thing about comps and what do you like least?
Cierra: I have been competing since 2007. I started with the last of the Namiko competitions before the SLSA was formed. Since then, it has been mainly SLSA competitions. Although, I did participate in the first competition held on Virtual Highway.
What I love the best about competitions? The stoke, the camaraderie (Bobbi sticking her gum on the bottom of my board before a heat), being able to challenge myself to do the best I can and being happy with my performance. What do I like the least? Probably the same thing as everyone else, the lag monster.
Flynn: What prompted your decision to run for SLSA Director this term? What qualifications, skills, competencies, traits, etc. do you hope to bring in as a director?
Cierra: Oh geez… what a loaded question. Some people don’t know I was one of the founding directors of the SLSA. So, I kinda have a feel for what it is like to be a director. I haven’t run for director since because I always wanted new people to come in and carry on the dream and improve upon it. For the last year and half I have thought about running though. I love being part of the competitions. I like being behind the scenes and helping out. But I kept saying, maybe the next election… finally I decided it was time for me to put up or shut up. The underlying reason for wanting to be on the Board is to give back. I so love competing and the competitions themselves and the community we have created. It has given me such joy, that I felt I had to do my part and contribute to the process.
There is nothing special about me, as far as qualifications go. Other than being stubborn and wanting anything I undertake to be the best it can be. I guess one thing I have always felt from when we (the founders) started this whole thing and how is should be set up, is that it should be about the surfers. Things should be set up and run in a way that makes them feel really good about participating in competitions. I have always felt very protective about the surfers themselves.
Flynn: How will you improve the experience for SLSA surfers? How will you connect to the various groups and personalities so that you can represent their interests and possible concerns?
Cierra: I want to help new surfers discover the joy of surfing and be able to help the “older” surfers keep or re-find their stoke. It is just so much damn fun. I want to continue to be part of the process to improve how competitions are held, whether it is behind the scenes or out in the open. I interact with a wide variety of people. I am grateful for having been able to meet lot of different people. I am not perfect… But I try my hardest in whatever I am doing. I can be stubborn when I feel very strongly about something. I also have the ability to play devil’s advocate and try to view issues and solutions from all sides, look for all the pros and cons, before expressing an opinion or making a decision. I actually like to hear everyone’s views first. It helps me make sure I have thought things through completely. My goal is to help give the surfers the best experiences possible in competitions and free surfing.
Is there room for improvement. Sure! Can’t anything in RL or SL be improved? I will try to be part of the team that helps to find ways to improve the way competitions are held, so that for the surfers they are seamless and smooth and fun. Making life easier on the staff running them would be nice too. I want to hear what ideas the surfers have, from the rules, to the competitions, to the way we interact as a community. IM me. Seriously. I am here to listen. I want to try to make sure we are following the wishes of the body of surfers. Because without the surfers, what are we?
Flynn: What do you see as your first priority as an SLSA director? What do you see as the top issues facing SL surfing in general?
Cierra: My first priority is to learn the job, lol. A lot has changed since I was a director 5 years ago. I want to get a feel for the projects and ideas that are being worked on to see how feasible they are and that they will be beneficial to the group. I am not coming in to change specific things. I am here to help the SLSA be the best it can be. I would like to demystify the SLSA to the community as much as possible. In other words, to make SLSA more transparent. What the Board does, how the rules work, how heat draws are done… things like that. Some people don’t care, they just want to show up and surf. And that’s okay. But I don’t want people to feel like this is all a big mystery.
We could all scramble around and find stuff to complain about or what is wrong. But you can do that about anything. It used to be an issue attracting new surfers. But I have seen so many new faces coming in, the community is continuing to grow out there. I think it’s that surfers are so open and accepting of new people. They just want to share their love of the sport. The top issues in SL Surfing really are things that are beyond the SLSA’s control. Individuals being able to afford to own surf sims. Scripters to continue to improve surfboards and waves. Face it, SL surfing can be a very expensive hobby. As a community, we do what we can to support the creators and sim owners. We buy their product, we donate to their sim. We can’t (or most of us can’t) buy a new surfboard or wave every week. But we can show an appreciation for what is there and an interest in seeing it evolve and improve. This may sound like a broken record but I think that most of us can part with a few lindens a week to help out the sim owners that provide us with great places to surf. We can be there to support and encourage the people involved in SL surfing. We need to keep our eyes open and be accepting of new ideas out there.
Flynn: As founder, we envisioned that SLSA would be more than putting on competitions. Do you think SLSA today has a greater role to play in the SL surfing community?
Cierra: Part of my intent is to help make sure the SLSA remains true to its original ideals and mission. The role of the SLSA is two-fold. One, to hold competitions. Two, to help build the surfing community, to raise awareness, to bring in new surfers and introduce them to the joy we have found in surfing. I think we have been doing that. We all came to the SLSA for the same thing. To meet other people with the same interest in SL surfing. Some come to compete, some just want to be part of the community. The SLSA should strive to encompass both groups, we are here because we enjoy SL surfing. And if we have found enjoyment in it, then there are likely others out there that will like it too. We need to do what we can to get the word out that there is a community for anyone that enjoys SL surfing or at least is interested in what it is.There are individuals that are working their tails off to get the word out in Second Life and working with the Lindens to do this. And SL surfers are the friendliest most giving group of people I know. They are always ready to talk to new surfers and share their tips and tricks.
Flynn: That’s it for the tough questions. 🙂
Cierra: Thank god! I feel so serious.
Flynn: What board is your current favorite?
Cierra: My go-to boards are my Namiko Aquatica for a long board and my Shark Retro Fish for a short board. Lately I have been modding boards to match the dimensions I like and putting your wrd design textures on them.
Flynn: What wave is your current favorite?
Cierra: Tough one. I hate all new waves until I have surfed on them for a while. I am old-school. I love pipes. My favorite competitions were the last two at Bundoran Reef where 3 pipes were lined up in a row and you had to hop the gap. I like the Cortes and the Juaquina as well. There are so many new waves coming out. I can’t keep track… but any wave that let’s me do tricks and be able to show some style I enjoy.
Flynn: What are some of your favorite SL surfing spots (a location is much more than a wave) ?
Cierra: Wherever the next competition is, lol. Tai is my home. So it is fun to grab my board off our beach and paddle right into the wave.
Flynn: Anything else you would like readers to know about you?
Cierra: Goodness, haven’t I babbled enough? Okay, me and Second Life… I surf. Ninety percent of my time on SL is surfing, thinking about surfing, or talking about surfing. Also, I really am easy-going. You aren’t bugging me ever by talking to me. Go ahead IM me. Anytime. I feel very fortunate, grateful and humbled to have been elected to the board. I wasn’t elected the first time, I was just at the right place at the right time.
Flynn: I want to thank for taking the time to respond and letting us get to know you a little better.
Cierra: You are very welcome 🙂