Photos: Kim Hertogs & An Desmet
A while ago I was asked by a Belgian newspaper to go on a girls-only surf-trip in Portugal. Even though I can safely be called a feminist, and although in the last two years I gathered a group of gorgeous surfing ladies around me, I would not really actively choose for a GIRLS ONLY surf-trip if it were for myself.
Why is that? I really like girls and I like to surf with them too, but I am not exactly a fan of exclusivity. That said, I have to admit that the girls-only thing bothered me a lot less than I would have expected. Because you simply do a lot of stuff and you get across guys and men during your day anyway. (I sort of had this idea in my head that on such a trip, males would be banned all the way from morning till evening, which is of course not the case.)
On the contrary: I met a lot of super interesting, smart and funny girls and we loved sharing our (surf) experiences together, although we had never met before.
When I asked the owner why she called her trips ‘chicks on waves’ - she explained that over 10 years ago, she was often the only girl in the water. She wanted to change this and that’s why she started organizing these trips. Fair enough, because now, a decade later, her concept has found solid ground in the Algarve hills and many girls and women have found their way to this place already.
I started pondering about womanhood and surf and tried to find differences between how men and women experience surfing. I cannot speak for the entire community of surfing women (nor for the men’s), but what I see in my peer-group, is that for us surfing is not about surfing bigger or longer or more spectacular waves. For us it’s about getting rid of the everyday stress, being happy, finding laughter and having fun. Of course we try to improve our surf-skills and we really do care about how we look when we are surfing. I would lie when stating otherwise, but surfing for us is definitely not a thrill-seeking experience. It’s not about getting kicks out of dangerous stuff. Hell no, when I see waves bigger than myself, I rather ditch the board and read a book instead.
Speaking about books, since I started surfing, I found myself reading about the moon and her influence on the tides, and diving into spiritual stuff more and more. These things are also widely spread amongst my surfing girlfriends and we like to talk about the spiritual, about yoga and meditation and all these topics for us are an essential part of our surfing lifestyle. Being in the ocean feels like being so close to nature, that we can’t help but being very conscious of the impact we have on mother earth. We discuss sustainability, we wonder where and how our bikini’s are made and the effects of this on nature, we are looking for package-free types of soap, sunscreen and we find it important to make our surf-trips as waste-free as possible.
Again, this doesn’t mean at all that guys wouldn’t be aware of all this. I just really enjoy to discuss different things with my female fellow surfers and I love it when we share the same line-up. We are the first ones to cheer very loudly when one of us rides a beautiful wave, and even more when epic nosedives are being made. We can’t stop laughing when we do stupid or kooky stuff. I really enjoy the feeling that there is no pressure for being ‘cool’, but when the standards are set on ‘having fun’.
Thanks to all the girls who share these good vibes with me.
Let’s move this forward and take many more sisters with us on this wondrous journey.