It wasn’t so long ago that there were no women’s surfing events. At all.
Surfing was something that was left to the boys. They gathered up their boards, zipped up their steamers and stepped out into the water. Together, they developed new tricks. They conquered huge waves and small waves and everything in between.
By the 1970s, there were a few female surfers. But they were so far in the minority that they had to compete in professional men’s events. None of them had sponsorships. Few were recognised for how talented they were – despite the fact that women are just as capable of the most difficult maneuvers on surfboards as men.
Finally, in the late 70s, the ASP (the Association of Surfing Professionals) introduced a women’s division, where surfers such as Layne Beachley were able to compete. But despite this, women still made up only five to eight per cent of surfers during the 80s and 90s.
These days, it’s more like 20 per cent. And it’s only growing from here. More and more women are getting involved in surfing, and the surf industry – which used to ignore women completely – is now sitting up and taking notice. Rather than being a novelty, women now influence a whole lot of surf brands, who make products especially for our female surfers.
And damn do we have some AMAZING female surfers.
Last week, I was lucky enough to be invited along to go surfing with some of the best of the best. I was stoked. I used to surf quite a bit when I was younger – in high school, I did surfing lessons every week at my local beach. I had a beautiful instructor. I forget his name now, but he was super cute and super blonde and my fifteen-year-old self was madly in love with him.
We used to grab our boards and drag them all the way down to the end of the beach – next to the rock pools, where the tide would take you straight out the back and tip you onto the nicest waves. For two hours, in the sun, in the rain, in the cold… we’d surf.
I loved it. I love being in the water in general – I feel much more at home there, for whatever reasons – but I especially loved surfing. That feeling of getting up on your board and maneuvering your way to the shore is unlike anything else. Exhilarating is probably the best word to describe it, but even that doesn’t quite do it justice.
I don’t surf much these days. It takes a fair bit of time and effort that I just haven’t been able to hand over in the last few years of my life. But I still follow the sport really closely. It’s beautiful, it’s dynamic, it’s powerful, and it’s inspirational to watch some of the world’s best female surfers doing what they love most.