An unspoken connection exists between female surfers in the water, even when we don’t know each other. There’s often a smile or nod of acknowledgement, and on bigger days, a sigh of relief to see another girl paddle out amidst an intimidating male-dominated lineup, where everyone sits cross-armed and silent, challenging one another over who can sit deepest.
I live with six other surfer girls, and we all found each other through the sea. Small interactions and compliments in the water blossomed into friendships, and into a sisterhood. Over the next four years while we attended UC Santa Barbara, we bonded over our shared love for the ocean, chasing waves together from Mexico to Morocco to Portugal, and all the way home to Isla Vista, our small-wave slice of heaven.
We live in a house in the infamous college party town of Isla Vista, nestled between a couple of right-hand point breaks. The garage is exploding with surfboards, and the showers are constantly clogged from sand. The backyard is littered with more boards, and between two trees a wetsuit line hangs accompanied by a distinctive stench. Then there’s the energy of seven, permanently-frothing, wave-hungry, 21-year olds.
Living here is wild and exhilarating, but we exist in a harmonious symphony of beautifully orchestrated chaos. When the swell arrives, it’s a feeding frenzy. “Have you checked the surf?” “What’s the tide doing?” “What board are you going to ride?” “Who has wax?” “Where’s my wetsuit?” “Can I ride your board?” “Is the wind supposed to pick up?”
We all met fresh-faced and wide-eyed as freshman, right out of high school in the fall of 2017, greeted by Santa Barbara’s “flattest winter in 30 years” (according to an old dude’s conversation I overheard in the water). No leftovers remained from the previous two El Niño winters. It was a classic case of should’ve been here yesterday, only this time, yesteryear. Faced with fickle swells from a protected coastline, we all simultaneously gravitated towards longboarding to maximize our days in the ocean.
In our house, there’s definitely something special. The air buzzes with a positive energy and an infectious stoke. It feels magical. Prior to college I never had a ton of girl friends that surfed. I remember looking at Roxy ads or watching Blue Crush and wishing I could be surrounded by other girls that loved to surf as much as I did. I had a thing for surfing before I met my roommates, but they inspired something in me – to love it even more, adding another layer of happiness and helping me become more confident in the water.
When I paddle out with my best friends and watch them take off on good waves, I can’t help but smile wide and cheer them on as they pass. The magical energy I feel at home is a testament to the power of female solidarity: the light and pure joy women bring to the lineup (and to life). Maybe this is what the future of surfing looks like, with the inclusion and empowerment of women bringing more lighthearted and uplifting energy to the water. I created the short film Seven of the Sea to capture this feeling.
Whenever I tell people I live with six other girls, they usually snicker at the thought of the mess or the perceived drama, thinking it would resemble a reality television show. Although our house does seem to permanently have sand on the floors or a mess in the kitchen, it’s really just heaps of happiness, craziness, and whole lotta stoke.