Imogen Caldwell is what’s known as a paid free surfer. She doesn’t really compete, but companies pay her to travel the world and surf. Or at least they did before the pandemic. Her story, though, is unique. She grew up not in Southern California, or Hawaii, typical hotbeds of young surf talent, but very rural Western Australia—the “bush” as they call it. That area is loaded with powerful surf breaking over sharp reefs, crystalline water, and massive white sharks. Caldwell is a phenomenal tuberider, advanced far beyond her years. You would be too, if you’d grown up where the only surfable waves are hair-raising freight trains roaring down the reef. Filmed by the talented Morgan Maassen.


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