As with most sports besides gymnastics, figure skating and softball, surfing is predominantly seen as a “man’s sport”. It’s extreme, it takes some serious strength and skill and can at times, be pretty dangerous (granted I’d take a wave to the face rather than a fast pitch softball anyday). Even with incredible female surfers like Bethany Hamilton and Layne Beachley blowing up the surf scene, it’s still considered a predominantly male sport.
Every day I paddle out, I am happily seeing more and more women in the lineup. Not just the girls that are wading around on long foam boards in the white-water, I mean legit women out on performance boards holding their own with the guys, and oftentimes surfing circles around them. I know a number of amazing women who spend their days chasing surf and nights dreaming of it, who paddle out in freezing temperatures or crowded sunny days just to get the rush of a nice glassy wave.
Us surfers all know the basic rules of surfing. “Don’t paddle into the break”, “don’t drop in on another surfer”, etc., but here are some helpful tips for all of you budding female surfers:
1. Whenever possible – bring your friends: Similar to the rule of “Share the Stoke”, bringing a big group of girlfriends is the best way to enjoy a beautiful day of surf. There is nothing better than a bunch of women smiling, laughing and bringing their awesome infectious energy to a testosterone filled lineup.
2. Don’t be afraid to hold your own with the guys: The energy at a break can change from day to day depending on who is in the water. Some days everyone is really friendly and just enjoying the surf, other days its a competitive environment where surfers are pushing the boundaries, dropping in, and mouthing off. This is when us women can make a huge difference in a break. My advice? Get right in the thick of it (if it’s safe and your skill level is up to par). There is something about seeing a woman in the water that makes even the rowdiest of surfers mellow out. It’s pretty humbling for a hothead guy to see a beautiful woman catch a wave and rip down the line without arguing with other surfers to make it happen.
3. Try out a shortboard: This is one that I just recently tackled. Most beginner surfers start out on longboards because they are easier to get up on and tend to be more fun during the beginning stages of surfing. But, it seems like a lot of women stick with the longboard and never venture out. Women can definitely rock a long board, gracefully walking up and down the board, giving a little hang 10 as they cruise down the line, but shortboarding is a whole different deal. Sure, you’ll go through another beginning phase as you start on a shortboard, but it’s SO worth it. The confidence of being able to get under any big wave with a duck dive rather than a turtle roll takes women to a whole other level in the water. It’s quick, exciting and opens up a completely new world to surfers. Lately there have been one or two other women on shortboards almost every time I paddle out and they are amazing to watch – Graceful, powerful and a force to be reckoned with at any break.
As female surfers in the water we hold a lot of power. There may be less of us, but we have the ability to change the entire dynamic of the lineup with a simple flash of a smile or impressive ride on a nice wave. Surfing is good for the soul so share your love with other amazing women, bring your powerful feminine energy to the water and lets show these guys how it’s done wahine style!