The OG melons, which are both currently resting at home while I am away.

They always say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but frankly, I find it pretty dang annoying. I’ve always sought out ways to be different, even as a kid, I was staunchly against fitting in and following the status quo. This inevitably led to bullying and social struggles throughout my formative years. So, even now, when styles of clothing or hobbies that I’d been mocked for suddenly become popular, I can’t help but roll my eyes. As I got older and started gaining attention on social media for my eccentricity both in and out of the water, I realized my penchant for the unique was actually something upon which I could capitalize! During my senior year of high school, my shaper Kevin Connelly and I brainstormed color ideas for my new log. Since social media was becoming somewhat of a job for me, we both wanted to create something that would become part of my personal brand, and thus, the watermelon design was born.

It was March of 2013 when the first melon was finally completed, and when I picked it up, I featured the board in an Instagram post that quickly became my most-liked picture ever (at the time). For the rest of that spring and during the summertime before I left for college at UCSB, my board became very recognizable around north county and at competitions. Companies and surf pages on Instagram would share photos of me and the board, and my following grew quite a bit. This was when people began to call me, “The Watermelon Girl,” and I found the whole thing to be pretty cool. I loved my surfboard because it was a super fun shape, was totally adorable, and especially because it was one of a kind, just for me. When I moved up to Santa Barbara for college, I started taking the train to visit home, or doing rideshares with people who didn’t have vehicles suited for a longboard. Many of my trips down south were for surf contests, so I ordered another watermelon log from Kevin, to keep at my house in San Diego. Watermelon 2.0 came about a year after the first, and we purposefully made the green rind on the opposite rail as the first one, so when they were put together, they became a whole melon!

By no means do I think that I am the first ever person in the history of surfing to think of a watermelon surfboard design. However, Kevin has a very distinct artistic style, and you can always spot a Connelly board from a mile away. The way that we drew up my watermelon, and the way that he executed the glassing, was something we’d certainly never seen before, and based off of the attention it got around the web, no one else had seen it either. About six months into the lifetime of the second watermelon board, I started to hear rumors of other watermelons floating (literally) around California. I didn’t really think much of it, because, as I said, I obviously do not claim ownership of the watermelon board concept. Shortly after, a friend texted me a photo of someone at Pipes carrying a board that looked just. like. mine. She actually asked if I’d sold one of mine, and I said that I hadn’t, so unless my mom had lent it out to a random person while I was away at college, it was in fact, a copycat board.

People have approached Kevin about making watermelon boards, and he’s turned them all down, because he knew how important it was for me to be unique. So, I knew that another shaper had to have made this imitation melon, which made it even worse. A few weeks after the San Diegan imposter sighting, I was tagged in the comments of an Indonesian girl’s Instagram post. When I checked out the post, my jaw dropped - this girl got a new longboard that was painted exactly like my board. I wasn’t super bothered by it, because she lived a whole ocean away, and I found it sort of cool that I’d inspired someone from another country! Instead of taking the easy route of making a mean comment online, I simply wrote that we were watermelon sisters. However, this trend continued, and I started seeing photos of more fake melons circulating the internet. Obviously the shapes of the boards were all a little bit different, and most of these were painted (whereas all of the artwork on my melons are in the resin tints thanks to Kevin’s epic glassing talents), but they were still eerily similar. It would have been essentially impossible for someone to have had the totally original thought to design their board in this fashion, without having ever seen a photo of one of my boards.

As I saw more and more knockoffs, I really got over the whole watermelon situation, and ordered a new longboard from Kevin that had absolutely nothing to do with watermelons. He had just begun shaping for Gordon and Smith, and I wanted a fresh start with my new sponsor - no fruit puns intended. I still kept my watermelon board up north for my last year at UCSB, because it was sort of trashed at that point, and I didn’t want to worry about messing up a brand new board on the rocky points of Santa Barbara. At home, however, I rode my new board, and even brought it to Saladita for the Mexi Log Fest. Slowly but surely, I was phasing out the age of the watermelon. Then, after I graduated and moved back to Encinitas, I had about two months before leaving to go abroad. I figured I’d just bring the board that I got from G&S only 8 months prior, but they really wanted to make me something new for my travels, and of course, I couldn’t say no to a new log! We agreed that the watermelon boards create conversations, and it would be smart marketing to bring a watermelon around the world with me.

Kevin finished the board a few weeks before I left, and when I rode it near home, I got some really positive feedback. Overall, it felt great to be back on the melon. As soon as I got to Bali, I was so thrilled with the board. I felt like I was riding it better than my previous logs, I got heaps of compliments on it, and it handled the bigger Indonesian waves with ease. The weirdest thing kept happening though; people in the water and on the beach kept asking me where I rented “that watermelon board” from. When I explained that I brought it from California, other tourists shook their heads and said they saw it at the rental shacks near Old Man’s beach. Upon some further investigation, I came to the shocking discovery that there was an entire fleet of rental watermelon boards that looked a heck of a lot like mine. At that point, I was starting to regret my decision to dive back into the watermelon world.

After I left Bali, I forgot all about the melon mania, and enjoyed the rest of my surf adventures. When I got to Australia, I didn’t have any run ins with imposters, but was tagged in some posts showing evidence of a watermelon board in the Northern NSW region. I never saw it in the water, until about February, when someone I’d actually met in California paddled out at The Pass on another watermelon single fin. He said he was borrowing it from a friend who is a shaper that lives in Byron. I was a bit miffed, but at that point, someone could even have copied a copy, so it didn’t really pertain to me. Some of my friends thought the owner of that melon was riding my board, and asked if he’d borrowed it from me. Apparently he got really offended and defensive, claiming people had accused him of stealing my board. I can’t help but wonder, why would he copy another shaper’s design, and then get angry when people assume its the original version?

Recently I met another girl in Byron who bought a watermelon overseas, and brought it back with her. She didn’t know about me or my board, and just bought it because it was cute. Fair enough. I started saying that we’re in a secret club which requires a watermelon longboard for membership. Whenever we see each other around town, we give each other a little watermelon wave, and it’s all in good fun. It wasn’t worth letting something like that get to me, until just yesterday, I was surfing up north. When I was walking back to my car, a young woman shouted down to me from the surf club where she appeared to be having lunch with her family. She asked to take a photo of my board, which is a relatively common request, and when I happily held it up to pose for a photo, she said “no, just the board, can you put it down?” Then, her father goes, “take a picture of both sides,” and I realized what they were doing. I asked her if she was going to get one made like mine, and she said yes.

For a minute, I honestly got pretty mad. After all these years of spotting fake watermelons around the world, this was the first time someone directly came up to me and basically said “I’m going to steal this idea from you and your shaper,” to my face. Although there is nothing preventing people from being inspired by my board, my childhood desire to be different still rises up inside me, in that classic, “I listened to this band before they were cool,” way. After years of ridicule and outcasting, I forget that people are just making their own watermelon boards because they actually like mine, which is a compliment, after all. I have an amazing shaper and board sponsor, and am so lucky to be able to try all sorts of different boards at a variety of surf spots. At this point, I say, “let them eat watermelon.”