WOMEN SURFERS WANT TO
Young female surfers now have more opportunities to surf alongside men.
Annabelle Le Jeune
As the landscape of women’s surfing continues to grow, young riders are inspired to embrace their passion, undeterred by sharks, big waves or gender discrimination.
“I think it used to be just being seen as a woman surfing you were kind of babied, you were given waves, you weren’t pushed as hard,” said Seth Ost, manager of the North Shore Surf Shop, said. “But with women surfing today, they’re so physically fit they’re pushed so hard that they’re really performing well.”
Although, surfing is often considered a male-dominated sport and is criticized for gender inequality in competition opportunities, prize money and exposure, their female counterparts have helped evolve the sport along the way for future generations.
For Tiffany Paglinawan, an Ewa Beach native, hard work paid-off when she became the first woman to stand-up-paddle Banzai Pipeline and from that recognition, gain sponsorships. She believes that despite experiencing gender discrimination, women’s surfing has come a long way.
Pioneered and changed image of female surfers
1958 Makaha International Surf Competition Winner
Won the world championship seven times, six consecutive
Record-holder for men and women
Honolulu native turned local role model.
Youngest women's world champion
Photo Credit: Surfing Walk of Fame, 2SM Surfing Network, Redbull
“I think it’s just going to keep growing. I mean they have gotten this far and you know just the sport itself is going to be in the Olympics, so with surfing, with females, you can only go up from here” said Paglinawan .
While women have been making a name for themselves and carving out their own niche in professional surfing, they also continue to inspire the next generation. Even 24-year-old Honolulu native, Carissa Moore, who has been turning heads since 2011 by becoming the youngest women’s world champion at the time, is now a local role model.
“I really look up to Carissa Moore because she’s like the top surfer,” said 11-year-old surfer Kailee Bogart, from the North Shore. “I actually got to meet her and we’re great friends now. We surf at the same surf spot. She’s just amazing, I want to be like her one day.”
Jennifer Bogart, Kailee’s mother, described how she has seen a drastic shift in her daughter’s surfing and confidence because of older surfers who shout words of encouragement to Kailee and give her a pat on the back while out surfing. She believes these gestures help the young surfers fall in love with the sport every time they hit the water.
“I think that there are so many female chargers out there right now that are encouraging the younger riders,” said Jennifer Bogart. “They really want to see the sport progress with them and instead of holding back girls that might be nipping at their heels, the pros are really doing their best to encourage the progression of surfing”
He encourages young surfers searching for a sponsorship to consistently train hard and place well in competitions. Look at professional surfers and mimic their work ethic. It is important to get your name and footage out on social media, to let the talent speak for itself. However, in trying to foster a career he reminds young surfers to acknowledge why they fell in love with the sport in the first place— because it is fun.
“It feels so fun just going down the line and getting ready to hit the section. It gets me so excited and it feels like I’m flying almost, on a board, super fast,” said Kailee Bogart. “It’s kind of like a playground for me so I always love to be in the ocean.”
Places like the North Shore Surf Shop, that sponsor the youth in the community are also helping to raise surfers from the ground-up by providing them the tools they might not be able to afford alone. They look for individuals pushing the envelope, who are trying to get better, and groom them for future competitions.
“We help them with competition fees, travel fees, and then equipment with fins, surfboards, leashes and clothing,” said Ohst. “Just a way we can help give back to the community and give back to the little kids”