There aren’t many women in the lineups where I surf in New England, especially during the winter months. I’ll occasionally look around in the summertime and see other women in the water, but those days are both rare and special. And while I enjoy surfing with the men, I’ve always wanted to share more waves with women. So with that in mind, I signed up for an all women’s surf camp and retreat in Mexico.
Sharing the waves with a group of women didn’t quite turn out the way I’d envisioned. The camp was divided into a group of beginners and a group of experienced surfers. There was a clear skill gap within that group of experienced surfers and the end result turned into quite a bit of solo surf sessions; the very opposite of what I thought I was coming for.
At its core, surfing is a lonely sport. There is competition for waves when you’re in the water and most of them are ridden alone. But at the same time, a love of being in the ocean and riding waves is what brings us together. It’s the vehicle that allows us to create a community around something we often end up doing alone.
My experience was amazing. The time out of the water was where the women bonded as a group and formed friendships. It would have been nice to hoot and holler over waves with the ladies but the amazing conversations we had over coffee, ice cream, tacos, and margaritas were priceless.
The community of surfing is what you find in the parking lot before and after a session. It is where you catch up with everyone, find out how the family is, talk sports, and maybe dabble in a discussion of local politics. You stand outside with a warm cup of coffee on cold days, commiserating about the weather. Parking lot antics include someone handing you a freshly-made egg and cheese sandwich after a surf session, trying to get birds to land on your head with some dog food someone found or stressing the importance of not peeing in your wetsuit while standing in the parking lot. And so through laughter and stories, we bond. The friendships bring us together for celebrations like weddings and let us support each other during times of loss.
I realized during my trip that sharing waves with other women wasn’t what I wanted. What I wanted was to form friendships and find a new community. And though I was only in Mexico for a week, I got that. I saw a glimpse of how great it is to be part of a community of women who surf, even if we’re not actually sharing waves in the process.