We all have our own surfing journeys – how and why we got into it and for some of us, how it has changed our lives. In this first of a series of posts featuring women in the UK who surf, we caught up with Jenny who combines her love of surfing with life in the army.
Tell us how you got into the army
My dream job as a vet nurse didn’t work out. I was already in the Territorial Army (TA) as a driver and wanted to do something different so I did a couple of courses before mobilising as a Port Operator. From there I transferred to the regular army and I’m based in Southampton.
It’s a very specialist trade and we deploy all over the world for anything from a week to a full-time 2-3 year posting.
How did you get into surfing?
I got into kayaking during the first 6 months of my TA stint. I later joined the army surf kayak team and started competing. I was pretty useless at it and then an ex-boyfriend introduced me to surfing in Croyde. That was it – I was hooked straight away!
I felt more comfortable with surfing and had loads more confidence in the water with my surfboard than I ever did with the kayak. I would never go out on my own on the kayak but with surfing, I didn’t bat an eyelid.
How do you combine life in the army with surfing?
I joined the army surf team and started taking part in tri service competitions (army, navy and RAF). The team competes around April most years but there are several opportunities to surf with the team throughout the year. There are also opportunities to compete as individuals.
Surfing in the army is hard. It involves a lot of extra work to justify getting the time off but I’m trying to get onto the surf team committee which should help. Those of us who love surfing are prepared to jump through the hoops to make it happen!
I also take part in the our beginners surf week which is open to the army and army reserves. It’s a 5-day event and the ‘groms’ get two hours a day of lessons and all kit provided by the club. It’s a great way to spread get others into surfing!
Where are your favourite surf spots?
The south coast where I’m based can be a bit limiting so I try and surf in Cornwall as often as I can.
Kirra on the Gold Coast in Australia is definitely up there in the top few. It’s a nice mellow wave and things seemed to click there. Noosa is a close second – a stunning, chilled environment with the jungle as a back-drop.
However, my number one go to spot is still Tynemouth back home (I’m from Newcastle upon Tyne originally). It’s just so relaxed, never really that crowded and the people are so nice.
How has surfing impacted on your life?
It has calmed me down a lot and given me a reason to do yoga and stay fit. It’s making me a better soldier (fitness and command style) and I’m a lot more mindful of my carbon footprint and the effect we have on the ocean.
I now live to surf. I’m studying to become a sports therapist so I can start working around surfing. I’d like to be a surf instructor too, head back to Australia and break people in the water and then fix them beach side!