Crossing the ditch with NEW ZEALAND’s DAUGHTER, saffi vette…

We were lucky enough to sit down with the Girl from Gizzy to find out exactly what she’s been getting up to pre season and how her pre season was for her! 

Coming into the competition season is a busy and sometimes hard time of year for everyone. Between training in and out of the water, working to afford your time on the road whilst still trying to remain a positive and balanced mindset there is always a lot on everyone’s plates. However, to throw in moving countries into the mix would just be complete madness. However, if there was anyone who could do it, Saffi Vette is your girl. We were lucky enough to sit down with the Girl from Gizzy to find out exactly what she’s been getting up to pre season and how her pre season was for her! 

Saffi Vette and Brother Finn Vette celebrating her Nationals Victory pic: Surfing NZ
Saffi Vette is a pretty household name these days in the surfing world. Give us an insight into who Saffi Vette is…

Hey!! I’m Saffi Vette, I am a fresh 20 year old, my home town is Makorori Beach, Gisborne, NZ and I started competing at the age of 11 and my dad got me onto a board at the young age of 2/3 years old as I grew up across the road from the ocean.

Saffi Vette going vertical at the great lakes pro qs 1000 pic: @natsportsmedia @surfingnsw @wsl
It’s been almost two years since your last trip out here to Australia, and you’ve decided to take a leap of faith and move your life out here to Aus. When did you know this was something you wanted to do and how did you make it happen?

Yeah so crazy. Feels like it went so slow but now that I’m finally back it feels like it’s flown by in a way. My family has always wanted to maybe move over for better opportunities for surfing or it’s always been talked about but we never acted on it because life at home had such an amazing foundation and loving community for us so it was too hard to leave. Plus we live in our own little paradise. I had wanted to move over after school but my dad got sick in early 2019 so I wanted to stay home in between events and make sure he would be ok. He passed late 2020 unfortunately but I’m glad I spent as much time with him as possible. It was hard for me to think about moving and leaving my mum, brother and dogs because I loved them so much and wanted to make sure they would be ok before I left. 

The event schedule came out and I was committed to doing all of the events and preparing for them as best as I could. So my mum and I just sat down and booked my flights to come over early to climatize, sort equipment and get some coaching in. I wouldn’t have been able to move over without my family and community backing me 100% so I’m glad I have them all behind me. I’m also so lucky to have made friendships and connections over here as a junior and have been fortunate enough to have a place to stay in preparation thanks to Bella Nichols. Who is a surfer I have looked up to for a while now. 

saffi vette claiming victory at the new zealand national surfing championships PIc: unkown
For all of us who have never been across the ditch, could you give us an insight into the New Zealand surfing world and if there are any similarities between NZ and here. 

Home has raw beauty. That’s the best way to describe it. Gisborne, my home town, is the first to see the sunrise in the whole world. Aotearoa (Maori name for New Zealand) is the land of the long white cloud. You will seem to always have clouds along the horizon and crazy cloud formations which makes you feel like you are in your own little world. The cloud formations were so vivid at dusk that it helped early voyagers discover NZ. There are many contrasts and diversities like amazing rivers and lakes, active volcanoes, deep glaciers, incredible green valleys with native flora and fauna, world class surf along every coastline and breathtaking snow capped mountains in the winter time in both North and South Island. The roads are super windy if you are going on a road trip literally anywhere. Farming culture is pretty massive. I’d say every 1 in 3 owns a swan dry and a pair of gumboots. Put it this way my dad’s dream was to own a farm across from the beach  and it’s completely doable at home. It’s a lot colder at home as we get a lot of south swells on the east coast that push all the cold water up from the deep south. I love the culture and the friendliness of the people at home. 

Surfing is just as popular at home. The waves at home vary. You can almost find every stop on the tour along the coast at home but it’s just really cold so I don’t think anyone should come over haha. I would compare NZ to Torquay maybe! 

Saffi vette displaying a solid backside turn at the world junior titles pic: isa
You have an army of people backing you to follow your dreams both here and in your home town of New Zealand, how does it feel to know you’re so loved and supported and is there anyone in particular you would like to thank. 

It’s honestly unbelievable. My community back home is unmatched. They are all a bunch of absolute legends and I’m so grateful to have that kind of support. To know that they always have my back is so important to me. Gisborne has such a tight knit community and it’s so small that everyone knows everyone or you always know someones, sister, brother, parents, aunty, uncle, grandparent or cuzzy. The word gets out and everyone seems to know what you’re up to before you even know what you’re up to haha. Everyone has connections so if anyone needs anything you will always get the help you need. 

Gosh there are so many people I’d like to thank back home. All my family, friends, sponsors, Gisborne Boardriders, Tairawhiti Adventure Trust and everyone that donated to help me do all of the competitions this year, my community for having my back and supporting my family over the last tough couple of years, my mum, my brother and lastly my dad for introducing me to surfing and giving me the opportunities of a lifetime. I love all of you soooo much. 

Saffi vette in all her glory pic: unknown
Lastly, coming into the upcoming season about to kick off next month, how are you feeling going into it and what are you doing to prepare? 

I’m feeling really good. Just getting used to the different waves over here and getting my equipment dialed. I feel confident knowing I have been and surfed all of these breaks before and I have Stace Galbraith helping me out pre comps and Billy Stairmand helping me during events and all the NZ guys supporting at the comps. It’s going to be a good year and I’m looking forward to competing again. CHURR

Saffi is one of the strongest and most dedicated humans we’ve ever met. A heart of gold and a spirit like no other, she inspires us in and out of the water everyday. It’s a huge decision to pick your life up and start over somewhere new, however, she is following her dream and making her family and everyone who supports her so extremely proud along the way. And I truly think we could all take a leaf out of her book. Bring on 2022 Saffi, we’ll be here watching and supporting the whole way.

To find out more about Saffi follow her here on Instagram:

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