Location: Sydney, Australia
Tru Starling is a bundle of pure joy! You can’t help but walk away with a smile on your face after even the briefest of encounters with the bubbly 19-year-old! Growing up on one of the most competitive stretches of sand on Sydney’s northern beaches, North Narrabeen has been producing some of Australia’s top surfers for decades. Surfers like Simon Anderson, Chris Davidson, Nathan Hedge, Matty Cattle and Jordy Lawler immediately come to mind when thinking about the iconic line up.
But Tru and her family are part of a new emerging generation, both in the water and on land. There’s much more to Tru than first meets the eye. While already an accomplished competitive surfer with sights set on the WSL championship tour, there is a sparkle in the eye that suggests there’s more to life than just competing. With a creative, entrepreneurial flare and positive and fun outlook on life, one gets the sense that Tru’s adventure is only just beginning!
We love having Tru as part of our RYD tribe and we caught up with her this week to peel back a few of the layers.
Tell us a bit about your surfing journey… how you started, how it evolved etc.
I didn’t start surfing until I was about 12 or 13 so I was a little bit late to the surfing scene, but I owe a lot of my love for the ocean and the sport to my Dad. Before I started surfing I was a dancer and I will never forget Dad coming to watch one of the concerts that went for over 4 hours, he decided 20 minutes into the concert that he was not going to have dancer daughters and the next day we went to the beach and pretty much never left. If I’m to be honest, I can’t even imagine what my life would be like without surfing or the ocean. It’s not just my ‘job’ but it’s also a way of life for me, an outlet for my emotions, a home away from home so to speak. It’s definitely helped shape the person I am today.
How is it living in such a surfing hot bed like North Narrabeen?
Ahhh North Narrabeen! It definitely comes with a reputation! Living there has helped shape the competitive surfer that I am. Surfing with past/present world champs, CT or QS surfers everyday pushes you to want and do more. When I first joined the board riders the obvious choice for me was to surf in the women’s division but after 2 years of competing against the girls, I thought that surfing in the junior boys would not only help push my surfing but would also push my competitive ability as well. I’ve now graduated to Open Men’s. I am so lucky to call North Narrabeen home and the NN Boardriders my club, they continue to encourage and challenge all aspects of my surfing everyday.
You’ve had success in the competitive arena – what have been your highlights and what are your long-term goals for surfing in a contest jersey?
My competitive journey, like anyone else’s, has been filled with many ups and downs but I’ve found it extremely important to learn from the losses and the wins. I’ve had many highlights during my time competing and I can’t really name one in particular but whenever I go out for a heat and just focus on my surfing and keeping it simple I always feel at my best, win, lose or draw, as long as I feel confident in my surfing I am happy. My long-term goal… my dream ever since I started surfing has been to qualify for the championship tour, but instead of focusing on that one goal which is so far ahead, I always try to make smaller and more achievable goals that will help me get to where I want to be.
There’s also a lot more to you than competitive surfing – talk about the other passions and interests you have.
Yes, well I have been brought up knowing that surfing is not a ‘lifelong career’ you can maybe get 5-10 years out of it – unless you’re a freak like Kelly – and then the career becomes more of a lifestyle. So, having something else to fall back on I guess has been something that I’ve made sure I have lined up. I have a real interest in Sport Psychology and hopefully next year or at some point this year, I will begin my degree. I have always wanted to help people with performance anxiety or headspace as I have struggled with that myself, and I am interested in how the mind works so excited to get into that. However, during the time where the tour has been ‘on hold’, my younger sister, Jesse, and I have actually launched an online female surf mag, Murmur Mag, with the aim to help inspire, educate and empower young female surfers or females who want to get into surfing in general.
You seem to have a very balanced view of life and surfing… there’s more to you than meets the eye, which we love! Why is it important to have a few more layers of depth going on with what you do?
Competitive surfing is a tough sport, your run at a comp comes down to 20 minutes in the water and your 2 best waves, where judging is left in the eye of the beholder. And then you have Mother Nature to contend with so there are some great days and some not so great days. It’s important to know that the results aren’t a reflection on who you are personally, it’s just about those 20 mins.
Jesse and I have been brought up in an environment where we have been encouraged to ‘get amongst it’. From a young age when we travelled, we always found ourselves staying in more community run bungalows rather than hotel chains. Mum and Dad always wanted us to be connected to the environment and community around us. I guess this has helped us to understand how lucky we are, and the importance of giving back. This doesn’t have to be on a large scale either it can be as small as a smile or a chat with someone having a tough day. It’s those moments that help define who you are and not the score out of 20 at the end of a heat.
It looks like you have a great relationship with your sister Jesse – talk to us about that relationship.
I love my sister. She has definitely helped me a lot and has been probably my biggest supporter when I’m competing. She keeps me in line but also comforts me when I need it. We are total opposites so tend to balance each other out. It’s honestly been such a big motivator for me to have someone that I am able to surf with, train with or just talk to about life in general. Sometimes we need a break from each other, but we always find our way back and that’s the most important thing for me. Jesse competes as well so I’m very excited to be seeing the world with my sister and doing the sport we love so much together.
We love what you are doing with Murmur Mag! How did the idea come about?
Well, Jesse and I have been conceptualising the idea of an online female surf mag for over a year now and since we’ve had so much time on our hands we decided that if we are going to do it, now is the time, so that was when our baby Murmur was born! Our aim is to inspire young female surfers or young females who want to surf to get out there and just go for it! We want to tell stories in the surf industry that we believe have been overlooked so having that point of difference I believe separates us from any other surf mags.
What is your long-term vision for the platform?
Long term, we hope to make a living out of Murmur but we want to inform and inspire and stick to what we know and love. It’s important to us that we make sure that we create a safe environment for young girls who are or want to start surfing and for them to know that if they have any questions they can message us and feel connected to other females in the industry.
Finding good, wholesome roles models in this wild world can be a difficult task! What advice would you have for young teenage girls growing up in today’s society?
Don’t believe what you see on social media. Stick to your morals, trust your gut and if you want something, go for it. Work hard and you will get what you want. When I was growing up my Dad used to tell me “Tru, hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.” Don’t take the easy road just because it’s easy, most of the time it’s the wrong one so don’t be afraid of starting something new or something that scares you, most of the time it’s the best thing you could ever do.
And because we think having fun is the most important thing to do… what does ‘fun’ look like to you?
Fun for me? That’s actually a hard one. I love doing lots of things. But if I could plan the most fun weekend, it would be surfing a really fun a-frame peak, with a few of my close friends, enjoying a day at the beach with good food and all-round good vibes. Keeping life simple is my idea of fun.
Welcome to the team Tru! Now let’s go have some fun!