In 1959, the film Gidget not only brought surfing to the masses, but showed the world that the sport was not just for men. Ever since then, the ladies have been charging hard – from Margo Oberg (surfing’s first female professional in 1975) to Stephanie Gilmore who recently clinched her sixth world title. In 2014, the ASP world tour prize fund rivalled that of the men’s and two big-wave spots were added to the schedule, proving that the ladies can shred just as hard as their male counterparts!
Big wave chargers
But it’s not just in competitive surfing where women are stealing the limelight. Professional free surfer Keala Kennelly won two Billabong XXL ‘Women’s Performance’ awards for big wave surfing and became the first woman to tow into the notorious and treacherous wave Teahupoo in Tahiti. She also took part in the 2014 WickrX super sessions – a brand new big wave surf event specifically for women.
Closer to home, Easkey Britton became the first Irish female surfer to be nominated for an XXL award for a wave at Mullaghmore and the first woman to surf Ireland’s big wave spot ‘Aileens.’ When she’s not shredding big waves, Easkey is busy with her marine conservation and humanitarian work – in 2012, she became the first woman to surf in Iran in a quest to share her love of surfing with women who don’t have the opportunity to enjoy it.
Triumph over adversity
Some women have overcome extreme obstacles to pursue their passion for surfing. Bethany Hamilton was just 13 when she lost her arm in a deadly shark attack whilst surfing in Hawaii. Refusing to let this prevent her from achieving her dream of becoming a professional surfer, Bethany learnt to surf with one arm. She has taken part in numerous ASP world tour events, won numerous awards, set up her own foundation and written a book. Her faith in God and positive attitude helped her triumph over adversity and her story is an inspiration to millions.
For the love of surfing
Surfing is not all about charging hard, pure athleticism and being a pro. There are millions of women who shred for the fun of it and take time away from their hectic lives to follow the stoke. Hollywood stars like Cameron Diaz and Minnie Driver are regularly seen catching waves, and some actresses like Helen Hunt have taken up surfing after learning for a film role.
Surfing has resulted in changed careers for many women who simply followed the stoke – from writers and photographers to commentators and surfboard shapers, these women have carved out a niche for themselves in a previously male dominated industry.
But above all, surfing has allowed women to connect with each other across the globe and formed bonds of friendship that run deep. It has changed the perspective of millions including, four women in Australia who took up surfing in their forties and gained confidence, friendship and a heap of stoke! They wrote a book about their story which proves that anyone can take up surfing regardless of their age, gender or ability.
So if you have never tried surfing, and are feeling inspired to give it a go, book yourself a lesson and make it one of your top resolutions in 2015!
You never know where it could take you…!
Image: Network A