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Byron Bay is a very special place for a multitude of reasons, but one aspect that is particularly significant to me is the strong women’s surfing community. On any given day, at least half the lineup consists of lovely lady sliders, many of whom surf better than the boys. At home, there’s definitely a growing number of gals in the water, but there are still plenty of sessions where there is only one surfer with XX chromosomes. While some can attribute this female surfer boom to the fact that surfing, specifically single fin longboarding, has become “trendy,” I also feel like there are more organizations and groups devoted to encouraging girls to surf. In Byron, the network of female surfers empower each other to get out there, and it feels amazing to be a part of such a unique movement.
Like many other extreme sports, surfing has always been male-dominated, and while overall, the surf industry is still sexist (looking at you, surf brand advertisements that use male surf team-riders and female models, as opposed to female surfers... cough, cough), we are facing a revolution. The girls on the WCT are surfing better than ever, which is likely due to the fact that they are finally being sent out to surf heats in conditions deserving of their talents. The prize purses for most contests, whether WSL or otherwise, are matched for the male and female divisions, which goes to show that surfing is setting itself apart as a sport supporting equality. There are female-run surf businesses popping up all over the world, and Byron Bay is a hub for girl power surf brands, including Atmosea, Solsoya , SaltGypsy , and more. It continues the women-supporting-women cycle, which of course translates over to the vibes in the water.
Any woman who has ever been to school, participated in sports, or has literally just breathed on this planet, can attest to the fact that girls. can. be. mean. When I was younger, I struggled making close female friends, and I felt pretty left out of social activities due to the fact that I surfed, which was ‘different and strange’. Luckily, surfing was my ticket to making girlfriends, as there were a handful of girls facing the same issues at their schools, so we bonded over our shared passion. Before moving to Australia, I was a bit apprehensive that I would struggle to make girlfriends, but as it turns out, I actually have come to a magical place where the girl group’s motto may as well be, “you CAN sit with us!” The local women’s surfing population welcomed me (as well as any other girl surfer that comes to Byron) with open arms, and are some of the friendliest, kindest people I have encountered in the surfing world.
I am hoping that in a few years, it will no longer seem abnormal or extra special to see a gender equal lineup, but for now, it is genuinely amazing to paddle out every day and be greeted by the local girl gang. Sorry boys, it’s our time to shine.