Meet Raquel Heckert - The Brazilian Big Wave Surfer Who Lives in a North Shore Church
Meet Raquel Heckert
Big Wave Surfing is full of interesting characters—wild partiers, psychotic hell-men and hell-women, and a lot of huge egos—but there’s one character that might be the most interesting of all, precisely because she is none of those things.
Raquel Heckert has been living at Sunset Beach Christian Church for nearly a decade, where she is perfectly positioned to pursue her to biggest passions—her love for big waves and her love for God. Having grown up on surfing the heaviest beach break in Brazil, Raquel was eager to take her big wave game on the road, and by the time she was in her early 20s, she had already put in extended stints in Indonesia and Mexico (particularly Puerto Escondido). But the North Shore was always her goal—the epicenter of big wave surfing and the ultimate proving ground for anyone who loves heavy water.
When Raquel first came to Oahu, she did so with the help of individual sponsors—friends and family members who believed in her abilities and her dream and wanted to see her succeed. But support like that can only go so far, and once she got here, she had to find ways to make ends meet. She took odd jobs, surfed every big swell, and became an integral member of the Sunset Beach Christian Church, where he naturally jived with all of the other believers in the congregation. Raquel has always been a devout Christian, and she also has a refreshing innocence and joyous demeanor that draws people to her. Before long, the church leaders had invited her to live on the church property as a sort of volunteer working sponsorship—they’d give her a place to stay so that she could post up on the North Shore all winter, and she’d help out with various church activities.
After that first winter, there wasn’t really any question if Raquel would be coming back—her friends were here, her church family was here, and what was quickly becoming her home was here—all a couple of miles from the training grounds of Waimea Bay and Sunset Beach. Raquel was invited back to the church winter after winter. At the same time, she was proving herself as one of the best female big wave surfers on the planet. She became a perennial invitee to the Big Wave World Tour events, traveled to places like Oregon, California, and Chile for specialty events, and put in her time at Pipeline and other danger-wave venues.
Raquel was also quietly developing a relationship with Devin Henning, the praise leader and worship pastor at Sunset Beach Christian Church. A talented musician and songwriter, Devin was as committed to God as Raquel was—and in 2019, the two committed themselves to each other during a lovely marriage ceremony in front of Chinaman’s Hat, over on Oahu’s east side. Raquel now had official family in Hawaii, as well as a permanent home at the church—right in the middle of the big wave world.
Today, Raquel continues to be one of the most exciting big wave surfers on the planet—not to mention one of the kind-hearted. During the summers, she longboards, foils, and shortboards all over Oahu, with her husband Devin filming from shore. She also travels to various big wave spots in the southern hemisphere, chasing huge swells to keep her heavy water game sharp. Then, when winter comes around, she’s fully entrenched in North Shore big wave life—surfing every day, charging the biggest swells, sneaking over to Maui for the occasional Jaws session, and working in the community to help spread the love of Jesus.
In a big wave community dominated by aggressive, chest-thumping men, Raquel is a breath of fresh air—a humble, kind, beautiful, cheerful woman who sends it hard every day of the week—except for Sunday mornings, when you are sure to find her in church. It’s hard to ask for a better role model than that. The only thing missing is a mainstream sponsor—but with Raquel’s determination, ability, and soft-hearted approach, that’s only a matter of time, too.