“Beyond the intimate experience of a singular surfer in the water, surfing has never been only about riding waves. How we play is saturated with the ideas, ideals, and mores of our world.”
In the spirit of a sacred women’s circle, we gathered our vibrant women’s surfing community to connect digitally via Zoom and share stories on themes from Lauren Hill’s book about the rise of women’s surfing. During this period of physical distancing, seeing each other’s warmth and smiles through the screens was an invigorating reminder of why we care so much about activating our global, diverse community of surfing sisters to shape a better future.
Over nearly two hours, we paused for a few synchronous breaths together and expressed our stories with the intention of learning, compassion for each other’s deeply personal experiences, and action steps on how to work and play in solidarity.
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Lauren Hill introduced why she wrote She Surf, and how she felt called to document women’s stories to be heard and embraced within the heart of surfing culture through her films, writings, and gatherings. Cher Pendarvis—who has been discreetly shaping our culture since the 1960s through her art, surfboard shaping, writings, and in laying the foundations for professional women’s surfing—delved into the technical nuances of board design for the female form from her decades of wisdom.
Cher Pendarvis rides the energy. Photo By Sarah Lee From She Surf, Gestalten, 2020.
Dani Burt, the first ever women’s World Adaptive Surfing Champion, doctor of physical therapy, and a master of the backside pig-dog, guided us through her journey of how the ocean became a place where she truly felt love and at home during tumultuous stretches of her youth. Leah Dawson, a freesurfer and co-founder of the Changing Tides Foundation, spoke from her heart about how wherever she travels around the world, women in the water emanate vibrations of joy and explained a few concrete ways we can participate in political change. Writer and editor Rhea Cortado commented on how women’s surf storytelling has evolved into the digital era and why the multitude of voices rising to express their stories in their own words and art is changing the perception of surf culture within our own communities and beyond.
Dani Burt photo by Mike Bresnen and featured in She Surf, Gestalten, 2020
Cher final words felt true as an ending to our conversation but also a beginning of new ripples created by our gathering:
“A wave is moving energy and it travels sometimes thousands of miles before it gets to where we can ride it… My dear friend Rell used to say, ‘A wave is energy made visible. We ride that energy, we respect that energy, and we connect that energy all the way until it spills on the sand, with gratitude. Think about where that wave comes from next time you paddle for a wave and are gifted to catch it. Surfing really is a gift and every wave is precious. We are just so blessed and fortunate to be women surfers.”
Purchase your copy of She Surf, available here.