Our beautiful Surf Sister Clair has written a recap of her year since starting with Sisterhood of Surf for our Learn to surf day in 2023. This recap is so relatable and also made me feel so happy that we are creating experiences that help women to find a hobby that brings so much enjoyment. If anyone else has stories they would like to share please send in to firstname.lastname@example.org - Love Angie x
1 Year Since I started with SOS
Last February I attended a Sisterhood of Surf one-day surf event. The event popped up on my social media feed and caught my eye as something fun to do. I was obsessed with surfing when I was about 15, living in Victoria in the 90’s.
I can’t remember ever actually catching a good wave, but I can remember the following:
● Finding an all-girls learn to surf camp down past Bells Beach and made my friends sign up and go with me. I have no idea how we found out about stuff, let alone signed up and paid without the internet…but somehow it happened…probably involved much parental involvement.
● My dad bought me a second-hand board and wetsuit (this would have involved finding it in the newspaper trading post. Old school.) and driving me and my friend to Anglesea from Melbourne after school on a Friday afternoon. We would surf before the sun went down and eat pasta that my mum had cooked for us, camp overnight, and then have breakfast before a morning surf, then breakfast number two after the surf, with dad watching on from the beach.
● My friends and I read all the surf magazines and lamented the underrepresentation and poor representation of girls and women in surfing at the time. Of course, we did have some heroes, the great Layne Beachley, Pam Burridge and Pauline Mercer were big at the time. For a short while there was a girl’s surf magazine called Shred Betty. It was the best.
Me and my best mate, probably aged 15, eating home made pasta at the beach after a surf. The board my dad bought me.
I surfed a little bit in my early 20’s as well, but again I can’t remember catching waves and any skill I may have had was gone! Since then I have always had some sort of outdoor activity on the go – paddle boarding, mountain biking and hiking… and through these activities I have always made great girlfriends who have kept my soul full as much as the activities themselves did. I have enjoyed travelling overseas, incorporating these activities with both friends and family over the years... hiking and mountain biking in New Zealand and cycling in Austria.
A photo from the one-day event last February (photo by Angie)
I signed up for the one-day event last February with my 14-year-old daughter, with no intention of taking up surfing again, just for something fun we could do together. But in true style of my personality….
I could not just walk away after the day!
I immediately signed us up for 3 more beginner group lessons, getting more confident catching waves in the white water. After that, I started looking for some more personalised coaching and found Sez on the Sunshine Coast, who does private coaching and group lessons through Surf Proud and The Surf Culture Club. I booked 3 private lessons over 5 days while we were on holidays at Caloundra and with Sez’s tuition made the switch from the white water to paddling out the back and starting to catch (small!) green waves. If I wasn’t ‘all in’ before, I was after these sessions.
Surfboards were purchased. Wetsuits were purchased. More lessons were had.
My daughter has been right with me on this ride too, since the one-day Sisterhood of Surf event, coming to lessons, sharing surfing content we find online, talking about what boards we want, and generally helping me to justify all the money and time we were spending on our new obsession. More than once she has pushed me to try out a new beach, or just try one more time to paddle out through some rough white water when I really just wanted to give up. I love sharing this journey with her, and now, through some of the group lessons I have started to meet women my own age on the coast who are at a similar level to me, and just as obsessed as me, and my daughter has met a girl her age to surf with too. New friends for us both.
Me and Olive before a surf lesson this winter. (photo by Sez)
In the last half of 2023 Sisterhood of Surf ran a surf skate session with Surf Proud, so of course we checked that out, and loved it. Surf skates are a special type of skateboard that help with ‘on land’ surf training because they mimic how a surfboard reacts in the water and you can practice how you turn your body while surfing. It was so good to have something to practice living so far from the beach and only being able to go surfing on the weekends.
Skateboards were purchased 😊.
Pretending I know what I’m doing (photo by @coreyschweikert)
Of course, signing up for a Sisterhood of Surf retreat to Indonesia was the natural next step! I’m going on the March retreat (47 days and counting). I cannot wait. I have loved getting to know some of the other girls I will be travelling with, and some that have been before. All reports are that I'm in for an amazing experience.
I have been putting lots of effort into my surfing over the last year, since the one-day surf event, and I carry on like I’m almost a pro and ready to land a sponsorship deal 😊, but am I actually any good?
I occasionally manage to stand up. I want to give up, or cry, most times I try to paddle out through the white water. My pop up isn’t great. I see photos of myself, and instead of the gnarly surfer babe I imagine in my head, I see a 47-year-old dork on a tiny wave.
But the image in my head (gnarly surfer babe) always wins. I always come out of the water loving it, feeling strong and wanting to come back for more. Or sometimes broken, but still wanting to come back for more!
47 year old dork on a tiny wave (aka gnarly surfer babe) (photo by @cabarita_to_noosa_surfing)
Any improvement is teeny tiny, and generally not linear, but I still keep turning up. Here in Brisbane, I do stuff like swim, surf fitness class, skate, mobility work and stretching to help me improve my surfing. But even if progress is slow, it doesn’t matter, as all these things are fun and healthy things to do that keep me happy and fulfilled and contribute to my own rich inner tapestry of existence.
So if you are thinking about doing a Sisterhood of Surf one day event, go for it! But be warned, things may escalate quickly!
Love your Surf Sister Clair xx