In honor of Women’s History Month, we decided to take a look at some of our favorite iconic riders in the world of women's surf. Here, our SeeaBabes reflect on the ladies who shaped surf history and their own personal surf stories. At Seea, we are dedicated towards continuing the legacy our surfing foremothers have made possible for us, a space to celebrate womanhood and our endearing connections with the ocean and dancing to the music of the waves... Leah Dawson kicks off the shared shred with a heartwarming intro:
Leah Dawson honors Linda Benson
Makala Smith honors Joyce Hoffman
Mele Saili honors Rell Sunn
In honor of women’s history month I’d like to glorify one of the women who has contributed so much to the sport and culture of women’s surfing. Rell Sunn, also known as the Queen of Makaha.
Rell was a master diver, a skilled lifeguard, a surf legend. In 1979, Sunn, along with Jericho Poppler, Lynne Boyer, Margo Oberg, Cherie Gross, Linda Davoli, Debbie Beacham, Becky Benson and Brenda Scott, formed Women's Pro Surfing (WPS) along with other pro women surfers.In 1982, Sunn ranked number one in the world for women's longboarding. She also finished in the top eight in the world seven times, twice reaching number three.
Despite all of her accomplishments, Rell’s true spirit lived outside of her competitive career. She isdescribed as a “Surfer. Disc jockey. Hula instructor. Freediver. Youth speaker. Black belt. Contestdirector. Lifeguard. Teacher. Waianaie Cancer Research Project Guide.” (Rellsunn.com). Rellremained humble and selfless... gaining the title “Queen of Makaha” for the spirit she carried with her, and the enthusiasm she devoted to every aspect of her life.
My grandmother actually gifted me ‘The Heart of the Sea’ documentary when I was 13 years old. I'd play it day and night studying her approach to wave riding. She became such an icon to me. The surfer that I would always aspire to be like.Although she will never read this I want to thank her for all that she has done for women. She was a truepioneer in the early days of women's professional surfing, especially when women were not given the opportunities that men were and even more so, were not necessarily welcomed to take part in. Thank you Rell.
Rosie Jaffurs honors Becky Benson
I grew up a few doors down from Becky and watched her raise her two children over the years. I didn’t realize it at the time, but later in life we would become good surf buddies... getting surf reports each morning and evening. I am inspired by the daily way she lives life: she worked hard as a teacher for many years and is now retired, living to surf everyday walk her dogs every afternoon. She is an inspiring and active at her beautiful age, and I aspire to follow in her footsteps and be able to shortboard on the North Shore in my 60’s!
In Becky’s competive career she was quite successful: taking a win in the 1971 Makaha International Surfing Championship and the 1982 OP Pro Huntington Beach. She also won the 1973 Hawaii State championships, and was ranked #3 in the world in 1977.
Becky Benson moved from Texas to the North Shore when she was 9 years old. Her father Albert Benson got stationed at Schofield barracks, and the rest was history. He bought himself a camera, and his three kids surfboards, and they all fell in love with the raw beauty and breaks of the North Shore - taking every chance he could to film his kids surfing. Being one of the few (if not the only cameraman out here at the time) he made lots of friends easily. Everyone would gather at his house to review and chat over the footage after good swells.
Becky’s entire family has been an inspiration in my upbringing of just how to be a good kind person, a hardworker and a lover. Becky and her mom are two of the kindest women I know, and are always trying to take care of everyone and everything. If I am ever out and see a dog loose on the road I call Becky. She not only rescues dogs, but fosters them until they find their forever homes - that’s the kind of heart she has.