Until recently, I didn’t even know the term “gurfer” existed. Gurfer–get it? “Girl SURFER.” Yeah, me neither. It feels more like a character out of The Hobbit than a respectable wave rider. When I was a kid, the term “gurfer” didn’t exist.
In the nineties, there was a single magazine (at least that I can remember) for “surfer girls.” Do you remember it? Surf Girl Magazine. It went defunct (but has since made a comeback) and changed its name to SG Magazine: Surf, Snow, Skate. We were so few, we had to lump three sports together just to get a single publication.
Growing up as a female athlete–be it riding waves or killing it in the mile–I can honestly say that we are used to the odds being not in our favor. I remember dawn patrols at Ponce Inlet, Florida, literally being the only female out (although I will admit, there were a few 50+ ladies who would regularly shred it). I’d wait for a sneaker set to swing wide or go for the close outs. Just to prove that I could take it. You know, one of those shallow, Florida sandbar spitters. Once, I thought I was going to be eaten by a shark. Turns out, it was just a curious manatee. I’m not sure any of the guys would have noticed the difference.
In college, I befriended a group of girls that surfed. We had fun, seeking out elusive South Florida waves. We got pretty good, actually. My junior and senior year saw me traveling nearly every weekend up north to Jupiter, Hobe Sound, Stuart area–visiting my dad and finding waves.
I moved to California for grad school, and expected to become a dime a dozen. The West Coast is more progressive, right? Not if the water isn’t warm enough. I met my future husband in Santa Barbara, exchanging notes after class, and sharing right point breaks in between. Once I asked him why there weren’t more girls surfing in California. His reply? “Too cold.” I guess I could see that.
Then we hitched a flight to Maui and haven’t looked back since. Cheeky bikinis and future champions both definitely abound on our small island. Yet I continually find myself shrouded in testosterone. That isn’t to say I’m intimidated–I grew up in a house full of boys, and in a world where women constantly have to prove themselves. Being good isn’t good enough. Being good is only good enough if you can beat the boys.
But after a lifetime of “competing with the boys,” I’ve finally realized that there is absolutely no need to prove ourselves. In fact, I’m quite tired of proving myself. As a women surfer–or “gurfer”, if you must–I possess my own style of surfing. I’ll wear the bikini I want, surf the board I want, surf the waves I want, and surf them how I want.And I guarantee, spray for spray – I may throw more, I may throw less. But rest assured, I pull it off with more damn grace.
Two winters ago, I stood atop the cliff at Honolua. It was absolutely pumping. Yes, I’ll admit, I personally relegated myself to photog that day. I was snapping sequences of the hubs when none other than Carissa Moore pulled up in the truck next to me. Playing it cool, like I always do, I (secretly?) spied on her as she picked her way down the cliff-side. Her first wave blew every single person–be it man, woman, or child–out of the water.
I smiled. Point for the gurfers. Better yet, point for surfing.