"La-rah. La-rah. La-rah." The volume increases with each refrain until she emerges, all warm and appreciative smiles. And then they lose their sh*t. Hordes of grommets cram themselves against each other, against the metal barrier that separates them from her. They're shrieking and I swear it looks like some of their eyes are rimmed with tears. They want autographs and photographs. Even basic salutations are coveted as priceless gifts. They're traces of Laura, a bleach blonde idol -- who's somehow relatable--to throngs of dark-eyed, wave-worshipping hopefuls. Everyone in the surfers' area observes the scene with wonder. Fellow CT surfer Bec Woods muses: Whoever says there's no market for women's surfing has clearly never witnessed this. Later, groups of adolescent boys will cluster at the entrance to her Rio hotel. As she walks past, they stumble over themselves to tell her that she's pretty, cool, the best. Laura Enever is female surfing's equivalent to The Beatles, and a new web documentary from Goodcheer shows what it's like to be Laura.
Enever joined the ASP Women's World Championship Tour in 2011, at 19 years old, and finished her rookie year ranked 10th. She delivered even better results her second year, climbing to 8th in the world, but despite her professional success, she felt as if something was missing.
"I found myself a bit lost at the end of 2012, so I created goals at the start of 2013 -- not just for my surfing, but for myself," Enever says. "Regardless of how I did on Tour, I wanted to make 2013 the best year of my life, and that's what I'm Laura is all about. Finding the real joys in life, meeting new people, seeing new places, and just trusting myself and my instincts."
A mutual friend introduced Enever and filmmaker Stefan Hunt in January. She'd been looking for a filmer and Hunt was one half of the talented team behind Surfing 50 States and Somewhere Near Tapachula. "When we met, we instantly clicked and wanted to work together to create something rad!" Enever says. "I initially came to Stefan with my thoughts on a reality web series. He and his creativity turned it into much, much more."
Enever is one of those public figures who radiates familiarity, but how much do most people actually know about her? They know that she's from Sydney, that she's capable of causing upsets, that she has a great sense of style and an infectious bubbliness. I'm Laura and gives viewers an honest peek at the athlete's life -- both personal and professional. "I wanted to show people the raw, real side of who I am," she says.
Chapter two in the first episode, "A New Beginning," is told by Enever's 12-year-old friend, Pacha. How the two first met is kind of a funny story. Pacha was busking at the Roxy Pro Gold Coast to raise money for a surfboard. Enever spontaneously joined her dance performance and gave her a board from her own quiver. They've been close ever since.
"I remember being 12 and just enjoying the little things in life!" Enever says. "Hanging out with girls like Pacha brings out the 12-year-old Laura again, the silly girl who just loves being in the ocean. I never want to lose that part of me."
And that's probably the true reason behind her electrifying connection with surfing's youth: She is hungry for life, just like they are. That's also the reason why the initial eight and a half-minute episode has become an internet sensation, reaching nearly 40,000 pairs of eyeballs and generating heaps of dialogue. Admittedly, not all of it positive: Some have criticized I'm Laura, saying that the film disingenuously depicts Enever's "struggles." For the most part, though, it's been well received.
"Initially, I was hesitant to take on this project," Hunt admits. "I imagined just filming wave after wave, and that didn't really excite me, but after speaking with Laura, I could genuinely see she wanted to do things differently this year, and she wasn't afraid to share the highs & lows with an audience. I ultimately took this project on because I knew how many grommets look up to Laura, and if we could share a really positive message, who knows what that may eventuate to."
"We have had such cool feedback," Enever says. "I got a message from a 12-year-old saying she loved it so much she cried. Mission accomplished right there."
"I'm already halfway through this year and happier than I have ever been," she continues. "I haven't won a contest or anything, but I have learned so much about myself as a person--and who and what really matter in life."
The four-part series will include forays to West Oz, Iceland, New York, and quite possibly, a few other surprise locations. "We booked flights to Iceland a week before going, and have no idea what the last episode will be about," Enever says. "Iceland was the coolest place I have ever seen. It was like another planet over there. And yes, it was damn cold. The funny thing is, I actually hate surfing in the cold. That was a reason I wanted to go."
Iceland's also helped Enever prep for next month's Roxy Pro Biarritz. "I've been keeping fit and healthy, climbing waterfalls, and surfing glacier mountains," she says. "I'd say I'm ready."
Look for the next episode of I'm Laura in mid-August on IMLAURA.tv.