The Inertia Founder

The Inertia

If I had a dime for every time I heard the analogy that surfing is like a dance with the ocean, I would have at least enough money to buy a six-pack of craft beer. Which is to say that I have heard it enough that the analogy has nearly lost its meaning. Almost completely.

But then I see Leah Dawson surf. It’s mesmerizing.

“My biggest compliment is not that I surf like a man, but that I surf like a woman,” says Leah. “If someone watches me ride a wave, I want them at the end of it to know that I’m in love with the ocean.”

She smiles a lot, so that helps. But her movements are unique. And in getting to know her, whether overtly or not, it’s easy to decipher she has more ambitious plans that are naturally unfolding. Through her own resources and energy, she’s quickly becoming a modern ambassador for women’s surfing.

“It makes my heart sing when I see other women out celebrating in the water and just playing and rejoicing,” says Dawson. “They’re not trying to do tricks, and they’re not trying to become number one in the world. They’re just going out for their daily medicine…As a lover of the sport I want to see women feeling more empowered to surf like a woman.”

Dawson is also a storyteller. She makes compelling short films like Peanut Butter, a story about her relationship with a yellowed single fin that a lot of people might put in the trash. And she has a strong opinion about the representation of women in surfing. It’s not about sex. It’s not about performance in the water. For Leah, it’s about soul – another word so thoroughly bastardized from overuse that it’s sometimes hard to recognize when we see it. In Leah, it’s boiling. And she’s not militant or overzealous about how she’s profoundly adjusting the narrative in championing women’s surfing.

She’s just Leah Dawson. And that might be exactly what surfing needs.

Special thanks to Arnette for making this episode of CREATORS possible as well as to Greg Huglin, Larry Haynes, Andre Cricket, and Philipp Vasilev for their gorgeous cinematography.

CREATORS is The Inertia’s profile series featuring individuals who make inspiring and innovative contributions to ocean and outdoor culture. View more CREATORS profiles below:

Kimi Werner
Kyle Thiermann
Cyrus Sutton
Donald Brink
Clark Little

  • Leanne Pelosi

    love this!

  • Nick Chagnon

    You know what has lost meaning? The inertia claiming that something is going to change/save surfing; has done so; or how something about surfing will change the world. Hackneyed doesn’t even begin to cover it. Just let surfing speak for itself, and stop with the incredibly unintelligent and unimaginative drivel. Arnette has a new edit on Leah Dawson, and it’s pretty decent. ‘Nuff said.

    • Ozilian

      Not to mention that the word “market” is used throughout the vid, which is sponsored by a leading commercial brand. I hate this hypocrisy. I’m happy for Leah and I think the way she surfs is pretty cool, but don’t give this crap about the “soul of surfing” and the like as if there’s something altruistic or God-like about this thing. Miki Dora types…

  • tum kritcher

    single fin boards have a loose feeling that thrusters do not have- of course if you do that jerky vertical snap back surfing then you need a thruster or quad- but soul surfing and flowing with the wave on a single fin is magic..I much prefer that style of surfing..

  • Marc King

    Only thing that makes me sad about this is that if Men surf like men and women surf like women, then I will never surf like Leah Dawson.

    • Kama’aina

      wise words

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  • Kathy McCafferty

    Elegant. Like a boss.

  • zoozoo

    Just surf and stop worry about why other people surf. Hippie hogwash. Non-conformist conformist.

  • mwave1090

    Now that is a woman in love…… more power!!

  • Lee Erdman

    She’s awesome! Just want to point out that male ballet dancers do as many pirouettes as the girls, and they even go en pointe! I think maybe this is just about finding your own style and empowerment, and I love it 🙂

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  • Kama’aina

    If surfing is thought of as a sport that needs to grow all of us lovers of surfing lose. Watching her surf is inspiring and beautiful. Most of what she said was in step with what I was watching. But then the idea of women surfing as an untaped commodity is thrown in. If she is the savior of women’s surfing, implying that there is a need for one, it wouldn’t need to be said. And even though I’m not a fan of women trying to surf like a man, what does this say to the young girl that loves ripping on a thruster? Does she need to be saved? Is that feeling she gets from shredding invalid? Again leaving me wishing that surfers talked less and surfed more. If we need to talk about anything as surfers it should be sharing the stories and history of what surfing was when surfing was surfing. In the end, I wish I surfed like Leah Dawson. She rips!

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