Surfer Girls Blog Archives

Back on the board: Wahine event inspires surfer in comeback

By Rachel George
Staff Writer

She could have quit, and Lord knows she thought about it. After breaking three vertebrae, Sindia Sosdian could have never returned to the waves, never gotten back on her surfboard, never gotten back to the water that hurt her so badly.

But, with the motivation of returning to the East Coast Wahine Championships, she did.

"I wanted to compete at Wahine because this is the best contest I've ever done," the Manasquan, N.J., native said. "This was my goal."

Saturday, just more than eight months after she stopped surfing, Sosdian and about 150 competitors were on Wrightsville Beach, competing and enjoying the Wahine's 10th anniversary.

For Sosdian, 26, it was another opportunity to get back to the sport she loves, and back to the sport that has made competition - and life - difficult this year.

It was on Dec. 16, 2005, as Sosdian surfed with her fiance, Chris Lisanti, and other friends in Seagirt, N.J., that the waves she never feared gave her much to be afraid of. Sosdian paddled out to a wave she thought she wanted to catch, and by the time she changed her mind she was on top of it, 10 feet in the air, and freefalling backward.

With her winter wetsuit keeping her afloat, Sosdian called for help and several surfers came to her aid, bringing her to shore and putting her on her board until the ambulance came.

"They had to cut the wetsuit off me," she said.

For a week, she was ordered to remain immobile. Stuck lying flat on her back with her arms at her sides, she relied on others for help. Just more than a week later, on Christmas Eve, Sosdian was released from the hospital and relied on others even more.

It was the surfing community, she said, that helped her through the difficult months of recovery. On the Wahine Web site, friends posted pages of well wishes and support.

"Everybody really helped out, and everytime I see everybody they're giving me hugs," she said.

A graduate fellow at Rutgers working on her Ph.D. in oceanography, Sosdian missed a month of classes. It took her that long to walk unassisted. It took another three months of physical therapy before she could go back to a normal routine - and get back on her surfboard.

On that first day back in the water in late April, she was scared. Before her injury, Sosdian, who has surfed for eight years, would try to catch any wave. Now, she surfs with doubt and uncertainty of what each might bring. "The first day was the hardest," she said. "I'm definitely gun shy. ... And now anything that looks a little bit unstable and looks like it's going to push me over and I'm going to eat it somehow, I just pull back."

That hesitation comes from the constant reminder of what happened - a pain that doesn't go away. When she stands, her back hurts because her damaged vertebrae can't support her weight. When she lays down, it throbs.

"When I don't feel pain anymore when I surf, I think then maybe I'll get back into it," Sosdian said. "But it's such a constant reminder that this can happen to me that I just can't do it. I won't push myself over the edge."

Now, surfing is about having fun instead of competition, she said. In her first competition after the injury, the Eastern Surfing Association's Northeast Regionals in May, she felt she had rushed it. But at Wahine, where she had won her short board division last year, she felt welcomed by a community of women that wanted to see her back in the water.

To be sure, Sosdian's recovery isn't over. She'll likely need surgery to inject bone cement on one vertebra that isn't healing well. But for now, she's got two finals today - one in the one-board competition, in which surfers all use identical boards, and one in the longboard competition.

"For three days after today, I'm going to be laying flat," she said. "I just wanted to make it to one final. I'm doing the best I can."

Rachel George: 343-2261


Newest women's surf magazine is all Wet

The wave-riding landscape is littered with the corpses of women's surf magazines.

There was Surfergirl magazine, Wahine, SG magazine and the latest casualty, Surf Life for Women.

Putting out a magazine is a notoriously cruel business to start with, but it seems especially so for those trying to explore the female side of the glide.

With a brand-new women's surfing quarterly called Wet, now available at Paradise Surf Shop, we'll see if someone can finally make it work.

"Did those magazines fail because there's not a big enough market to support them, or because they're not good magazines?" said Ben Marcus, Malibu-based editor and founder of Wet. "I'm trying to be great. I hope that first issue is fairly great, as good as any magazine out there that happens to be about women."

Marcus, a onetime editor at Surfer magazine and a former Santa Cruz resident who's well known to many in town, first had the idea for Wet about nine months ago. He was inspired by a number of things, he said, including the progression of women's surfing to impressive levels, frustration by what he saw as a lack of know-how in the other women's surf mags, dissatisfaction with surf magazines in general and research into historical stories about Hawaiian women who surfed.

The first issue includes articles on the top pro women, shark-attack survivor Bethany Hamilton, historical Hawaiian women surfers, a single mom surfer, a 60-something female slider and more. Santa Cruz connections include a Jamilah Star interview, photographs by Santa Cruzan Nikki Brooks and a shot of Jen Useldinger at Waimea Bay; former local girl Karen Gallagher was also an inspiration for the magazine, said Marcus, and another local, Annie Allegretti, is on the advisory committee.

"I wanted to start an old-school" magazine, said Marcus, along the lines of the classy, uncompromising Surfer's Journal. "It's fun to do one by yourself."

Uh ... fun?

"That's going to be difficult," said Scott Hulet, editor of Surfer's Journal, which has managed to pull off a reader-supported magazine that now does well, in its 15th year, with 21,000 subscribers and a total circulation of 40,000. For contrast, the Sentinel has about 25,000 subscribers; both Surfer and Surfing each have 50,000-60,000 subscribers and total circulation of about 150,000-160,000, according to Hulet.

The premier issue is attractive, said Hulet, and they're pulling for Marcus.

"It's printed on high-quality paper, and there are good color separations," he said. The book is well art-directed by Joni Casimiro, he said. "She has a feminine touch without it being cloying."

Putting out a magazine, however, he said, is "one of those, 'Hey, kids, let's put on a show,' on the front end, and you quickly find out it's a Herculean task."

Even Marcus said he was surprised he's starting a magazine, because even he thinks there are too many surf magazines.

"The only reason I did it was to start a quality women's surf magazine," he said. "They said it couldn't be done; I'm going to try it."

The first issue alone cost $40,000 to produce, which he did with some investors as well as his own finances.

So how does it sit with the discriminating female surfer?

"Overall, I think it's a really good effort," said Sally Smith, owner of women's surf haven Paradise Surf Shop. "The articles are well-written, the photographs are magnificent and the physical quality is good, too aEUR" nice, glossy pages, a little oversized than a regular magazine, so that's also something that adds to the value of it and catches people's eyes."

The inaugural issue focuses a little too heavily for her taste on pro shortboard girls, she said aEUR" "just like the guys' magazines, everybody sees that. Month in and month out its the same people, and the story's never new" aEUR" but that's fairly balanced out by articles on a couple of everyday women longboarders, the historical Hawaiian stuff and a story showing men's surfing from a woman's perspective.

"That's the kind of thing where I think the appeal will cross over to guys, too," said Smith.

I agree with Smith. Wet is nicely done, well designed, with beautiful photos, some dramatic shots of big drops and some actual good writing, which you don't see in all the surf mags aEUR" and, I hope to see more diversity in the future, which I'm sure is on tap. It's really how a women's surf magazine should be aEUR" there is one page of product promos, but otherwise there are no makeup tips, yoga postures, blatantly consumerist fashion spreads and the like that make women's magazines in general so unsubstantial.

But what is it with women and the surf industry? Why are women aEUR" who now make up about a third of the estimated 2 million U.S. surfers aEUR" so rarely portrayed in a large way in surf magazines in the first place?

There has never been a woman on the cover of Surfer's Journal, said Hulet.

The photographers don't shoot the women a whole lot because there's not a lot of advertising dollars supporting them, he said.

"Photographers sell their photos to the highest bidder," he said, "which are advertisers. There are only a handful that buy photos of women surfers."

Also, shots of women surfing often just aren't as compelling as photos of talented male surfers, he said. "Men tend to surf in more critical and acute ways that are more photogenic."

And for sophisticated, bling-defying, roots-celebrating Surfer's Journal, for which 98 percent of the subscribers are male, the moves from the surf-competition set aEUR" both men and women aEUR" aren't what the editors have in mind.

"Another interesting component is that top-notch, surfing-is-my-life women surfers find what they're looking for in the surf magazines that are already available, without it being strictly a women's surf magazine," said Hulet.

But Smith sees a big inequity.

"Especially when, in Santa Cruz, you go out and see 50-50 men and women in the lineup," she said. "How is it that there's only me as the only women's surf shop owner in Santa Cruz? It seems like there should be a little bit more interest in having some backing for expanding that service to women surfers."

Marcus agrees that women have made incredible strides, but guys still think girls are kooks.

"But like Chelsea Georgeson and Sofia Mulanovich, they're good surfers, not just for women," he said. "They rip. They're exciting to watch. They're fast. Look how good the photos are."

Marcus is aiming to keep Wet's ad count low and charge $8 per issue.

"It's a pure action magazine, it's not trying to be anything else," he said. "It could be the dumbest thing I've ever done, who knows."

Check out Wet online at

RAHIM WRITES: Remember Rahim Walker, the globe-traveling Santa Cruz surfer I wrote about last October? I had the pleasure of seeing him in February on the North Shore, where he's paused his journeys for awhile to experience the epicenter of surfing. And now, Surfer's Journal has published an essay he wrote on an experience he had while traveling through South Africa. It's called "Road Lesson," and it's on page 125 in the "Encounters" section in Volume 15, No. 4, the current issue.
ART AT PAULA'S: On Labor Day weekend, the surfer breakfast stop Paula's, on Portola Drive, is hosting an art show featuring two local artists. There will be paintings, collages and sculptures by Paula's owner/chef Russell Fox and fine art digital prints from original photos of surfing, woodies and Santa Cruz by George McCullough of Pleasure Point.
MORE HELP FOR LOCATELLI: Supporters are holding a golf benefit fundraising event Thursday at DeLaveaga Golf Course for Mike Locatelli, a longtime member of the surf community who's battled brain tumors for the past 15 years. Mike's latest fight has left him in a wheelchair and put a tremendous financial burden on the family. Organized by Shylo Steinthal, the benefit has space for 144 players and is being supported by companies including Toyota, Spy, Billabong, Volcom and Ezekiel. Organizers are seeking more local businesses to donate raffle prizes or silent auction items as well as encouraging players to sign up. For information, contact Steinthal at
PLEASE READ THIS: The Los Angeles Times produced a five-part series entitled "Altered Oceans." It is, to say the least, alarming, heartbreaking, startling. If you surf or love the ocean, you should be informed:,0,7842752.special.

Send surf items to Gwen Mickelson at



Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 21 August, 2006 : - - ITACARA%0, Brazil. The Billabong Girls Pro Brazil, the fourth of eight events on the 2006 ASP WomenaEUR(tm)s World Tour, entered its official eight-day waiting period at Praia da Tiririca, ItacarA(c) today.

A five-star World Qualifying Series (WQS) competition, held at the same venue, wrapped up proceedings yesterday. Former ASP WomenaEUR(tm)s World Tour surfer Maria Tita Tavares (BRA) won it. Seventeen of the 18 athletes in the main event surfed in the WQS competition as well; reigning world champion Chelsea Georgeson (AUS) did not.

With a surge in swell expected tomorrow (Tuesday, August 22, 2006), and only two days needed to run the event in its entirety, contest directors have opted to put competition on hold today to give competitors a well-earned break. Lack of waves does not seem to be an issue at Praia da Tiririca.

aEURoeEven when there is no swell there are still waves here,aEUR Rochelle Ballard, current world No. 5 said as she trekked the cobblestone road down to the beach yesterday. aEURoeThe waves close out a lot though,aEUR Ballard said. aEURoeYou have to find the open faced ones if you want to have some room to do maneuvers.aEUR

With a several days of surfing Praia da Tiririca (the wave is new to the ASP WomenaEUR(tm)s World Tour this year) under their belt, the worldaEUR(tm)s best women surfers have familiarized themselves with the wave and are anxious to engage in the ensuing action.

While anyone could win the Billabong Girls Pro, Brazilian surfers Jacqueline Silva, Silvana Lima and wildcard Maria Tita Tavares, as well as former world champ Sofia Mulanovich of Peru will certainly bring their South American wave prowess to the aEUR~PraiaaEUR(tm) (beach in Portugese). The rest of the field better bring their aEUR~AaEUR(tm) game.

Another call on competition status will be made tomorrow morning.

HEAT 1: Megan Abubo (HAW), Keala Kennelly (HAW), Jessi Miley Dyer (AUS)
HEAT 2: Sofia Mulanovich (PER), Samantha Cornish (AUS), Julia Christian (USA)
HEAT 3: Melanie Redman-Carr (AUS), Heather Clark (ZAF), Maria Tita Tavares (BRA)
HEAT 4: Chelsea Georgeson (AUS), Trudy Todd (AUS), Serena Brooke (AUS)
HEAT 5: Layne Beachley (AUS), Claire Bevilacqua (AUS), Jacqueline Silva (BRA)
HEAT 6: Rochelle Ballard (HAW), Rebecca Woods (AUS), Silvana Lima (BRA)


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