Surfer Girls Blog » Surf News For Women Who Love to Surf! Thu, 01 Oct 2009 09:53:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Saltwater GIRL magazine teams up with ROXY Tue, 06 Feb 2007 01:46:31 +0000 Administrator Top ranked women surfers from all over SA will be waiting patiently to be called out to the most innovative women’s surf event of the year, The 2007 ROXY Invitational.

With women’s surfing growing in leaps and bounds, it is no wonder that more and more surf events in South Africa are being held exclusively for women. Each surf event in SA has its own unique ethos, however up until now there has been no other event where women are personally invited to compete outside of the usual ’CT rankings.

Bryony McCormick, SWG Assistant Editor, comments that, “The ROXY Invitational is a groundbreaking step for women’s surfing in South Africa. Together with ROXY, Saltwater GIRL have huge plans to take women’s surfing to a new level, to break barriers and to set new standards. This compo really raises the bar, and shows the genuine support we have for the future of girls’ surfing in this country. It’s positive and it’s exciting and Saltwater GIRL, as the exclusive media partner, couldn’t be more stoked to be a part of it. It’s contests like this that really put South African surfing on the map, and give our girls experience that can only stand them in better stead when it comes to qualifying for the World Tour.”

The event consists of a five-month waiting period, starting from 1 February to 30 June 2007. When the siren signals, 10 of the best will travel up to a perfect right-hand break in Mozambique for six days of non-stop surfing action. And the cherry on top – the astounding R15000 prize purse being put up by ROXY.

“We are very excited to be doing something different and taking an alternate avenue with women’s surfing. This event will really push and test the cream of women’s surfing and is a perfect channel to showcase the talent that South African women’s surfing offers,” comments Dane Patterson, Quiksilver Marketing Manager.

The 10 invited surfers include the likes of Rosy Hodge, Stacey Guy, Tammy Lee Smith, Nikita Robb, Heather Clark, Michelle Hill, Chatelle Rautenbach, Sarah Maritz, Tasha Mentasti and Tamarys De Maroussem, while the seven alternates who are waiting enviously on the sideline are Sarah Baum, Penny Robarts, Kirsty Delport, Nicole Annells, Heidi Palmboom, Telana Flanagan and Tammy Robarts.

“The Roxy Invitational is a first of its kind in SA for women’s surfing. It is not only a surf contest but an amazing adventure that offers girls the opportunity to surf great waves and gain maximum exposure,” says Natasha Hurst, Roxy Marketing & Team manager.

This is one event not to be missed – an event all about serious waves and not to forget, serious surfing.


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CHILE’S FEMALE SURFERS Tue, 06 Feb 2007 01:45:06 +0000 Administrator (February 5, 2007) Women surfers are on the rise in Chile, making their presence known on the waves and in national competitions and rapidly gaining the respect of their male counterparts throughout Latin America.

As recently as the mid-1990’s, women were generally unrecognized as a significant part of Chile’s surf community, and were virtually non-existent within the professional competition circuit. Juliette Anderson, a California came to Chile in 1994 and became the first female surfer to place in a national surf competition. Males surfers at the Region IV competition in Totoraillio were initially anxious about sharing the surf with a woman – and were shocked when Anderson finished third. Sponsors and organizers were dismayed that a woman beat nearly all of the male-only competition and asked Anderson to officially accept fourth place to avoid embarrassing her male counterparts. “I told them it wouldn’t be a problem”, said Anderson, “but since then I have dedicated myself to encouraging more women to surf and to professionally compete in Chile”. The efforts of women surfers like Anderson have paid off over the past 13 years – women surfers are now recognized as a force to be reckoned with on the Chilean competition circuit.

Ignacio Vargas, an instructor at the Lobos del Pacifico surf school in the region VI town of Pichilemu (widely recognized as one of Chile’s best surfing beaches), says that the presence of female surfers on Pichilemu’s waves has increased significantly in recent years. Vargas thinks that women surfers are often more dedicated the sport than their male counterparts: “In general, they don’t party as much…they are highly interested in the sport, and are practicing because it is their passion, not because it’s in style”. Vargas believes that Anderson, and her daughter Jessica, are greatly responsible for the increasing popularity of surfing among women – for years, the two Anderson women spent every Sunday on the beaches of Pichilemu, teaching women how to surf.

As the number of women riding Chile’s waves has increased, so has female presence in national and Latin American surf competitions. In 2005, the newly founded Chilean Surf Federation officially created a women’s category in national competitions.

Sofia Bórquez is one of the hottest figures in the Chilean surf world at the moment – the 17 year-old was named the Latin American champion at the last international competition in Mar del Plata. Bórquez began surfing in her Region I hometown of Arica at the age of 13, at a time when the waves were dominated by men. Of her native surf community, Bórquez says, “There is a good vibe, but it’s better to be a woman because some men leave the better waves for you, and are very supportive”. Bórquez is currently training six hours a day and has her sights set on becoming an international champion.

Another pioneer on the Chilean surf scene, Maria del Mar Pacheco, recently created the first Chilean website dedicated to promoting female surfing –

By Laura Gillis (


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Hot Jugz: a portable shower Wed, 31 Jan 2007 04:42:07 +0000 Administrator Hotjugz portable shower

On any given day in Southern California, you’ll find surfers with professional jobs who hit the waves at daybreak before heading off to their offices. Some of them even change into their work clothes in the parking lot. For these types, a Hot Jugz portable shower is a must. After all, what better way to clean up in the morning when a hot shower at home is not an option. A HotJugz portable shower uses no batteries or propane and does not require supports for hanging. With a two-gallon capacity, the HotJugz shower can run for up to sixteen minutes with only fifteen to twenty pumps. Insulation keeps hot or cold water on temperature, and the extendable shower wand allows for easy maneuvering. Even if you’re not a surfer ,you’ll find that the HotJugz can be a lifesaver when camping or engaging in other sports activities. For any of those times you might want a hot shower, but are not be able to take one in the usual way, this portable shower will make a great substitute.


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Women brave wild waves, buck male surfer scrutiny Thu, 25 Jan 2007 00:41:43 +0000 Administrator By Elliott Almond, MEDIANEWS STAFF

It’s supposed to be the emblem of minivan-driving soccer moms, not big-wave charging surfers. Yet, there was Naomi Gerhardt, tucked beneath four millimeters of neoprene, in the belly of mother Sarah last February at the infamous break Mavericks near Half Moon Bay.
“You are the youngest surfer to ever catch a wave at Mavericks,” Gerhardt told 3-month-old Naomi recently. “What do you think about that?”

Naomi probably won’t know for a few years. But some young female surfers think plenty about Gerhardt and what she means to their future as serious waterwomen.

The Cabrillo College chemistry professor has helped inspire a new wave of women to paddle into the once-male sanctuary of extreme surfing. Only about 20 women worldwide venture into super-sized surf — waves that measure more than 20 feet on their faces.

And though there are few big-wave career opportunities for even the men, more and more women are being drawn to the dangerous sport because of the exploits of such adrenaline junkies as Gerhardt and fellow Santa Cruz surfers Jenny Useldinger and Jamilah Star.

Central Coast teenagers Savannah Shaughnessy, 17, and Sierra Partridge, 18, lack the necessary experience to try Mavericks this winter but want to join the exclusive club someday.

“It’s a pretty macho atmosphere, but these girls have worked their way up the ranks,” said Evan Slater, an accomplished Mavericks rider and editor of Surfing Magazine. “They are used to dealing with a bunch of big-wave manly men.”

That so many hail from Santa Cruz is a testament to the city’s reputation as a big-wave Mecca; nine of the 24 contestants of the Mavericks Surf Con-test come from Santa Cruz.

But until Gerhardt arrived in 1998, no woman had attempted to conquer the monster waves that break a half mile offshore near Half Moon Bay. Her feats inspired Useldinger, 21, who now gets her big-wave fix in Hawaii most of the year.

“We spend our whole lives with the boys telling us we can’t,” said Useldinger, the first woman to surf a treacherous break called Dungeons in South Africa. “When you see another female doing it, it’s like, ‘Oh, I can do that.’”

Most surfers tackle giant swells for the amusement-park thrill ride or for bragging rights. Gerhardt, 32, did it to escape.

Surfing transported her “to a totally peaceful world,” where she could forget the difficulties of caring for her mother, who used a wheelchair, while growing up in Pismo Beach.

After graduating high school she made a pilgrimage to Hawaii to sample her first big waves. She embraced the challenge and for the next three years juggled classes at Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo with surfing in Hawaii.

Word of a big wave at Half Moon Bay led Gerhardt to move to Santa Cruz. She paddled out to Mavericks in fall 1998.

“When I finally got there I didn’t know if I could make it out and didn’t know what I would find,” said Gerhardt, who earned a doctorate at UC-Santa Cruz.

She discovered she wasn’t mentally ready that first time in the lineup because of the demands at school. “Do I really want this?” Gerhardt wondered.

When Gerhardt caught a wave her third time out, all the men cheered in support, she recalled.

“Big waves help me know what I value most, what my priorities are, what I will settle for,” said Gerhardt, who says she can’t wait to return to the lineup after taking time off to have Naomi.

As the subject of the documentary film, “One Winter Story,” she shares those lessons with other women interested in big-wave surfing. Gerhardt tells them it takes years of seasoning to overcome the fear of facing walls of water six stories high.

Her proteges, Partridge and Shaughnessy, have prepared for Mavericks by surfing big waves on Oahu’s North Shore this winter. Gerhardt also took Shaughnessy to Mavericks last year for a test run. Although the Scotts Valley teen paddled out, it was for research only.

“I wasn’t being silly,” said Shaughnessy, a Cabrillo college freshman. “I wanted to know how far behind I am before I go out there to try to catch waves.”

Partridge, whose twin Hailey also is a promising Santa Cruz surfer, wants to find out, too.

“Just the rush that you get,” she said of her attraction to it.

Some surfers are wired for mainstream contests, where stringing together a succession of maneuvers, typically in smaller surf, is the goal. Others prefer specializing in aerial tricks, with a chance of going on far-flung trips to shoot magazine spreads.

The handful of big-wave riders? “We’re another breed,” said Dustin Tester, one of the few women to surf “Jaws,” Maui’s outer reef break that surfers can only ride using a personal watercraft and a tow rope. “It takes people who are almost desensitized to the extreme environment.”

Places such as Waimea Bay in Hawaii and Todos Santos Island in Baja were popularized as big-wave spots in the ’80s. But the big-wave revolution really began in the early 1990s when Mavericks was unveiled to the world. Later that decade came the advent of “tow-in” surfing, which uses watercraft to reach fast-charging waves far from shore.

Now surfers such as Useldinger track winter storms across the globe to hunt for massive swells at places such as Cortes Banks far off the coast of San Diego, Ghost Tree off Pebble Beach and Dungeons. Their pursuit has spawned a women’s category in the Billabong XXL Big Wave Awards, a lucrative competition to see who gets photographed riding the winter’s biggest wave. Jamilah Star, who like Useldinger lives in Hawaii most of the time, is the two-time defending champion for her conquests at Mavericks.

For many from Santa Cruz to San Francisco and beyond, the nasty break at Half Moon Bay is surfing’s premier proving ground.

Here, the Force isn’t with you; it’s against you. Frigid temperatures, a long, arduous paddle, a jagged bottom and frequent great white shark sightings make Mavericks one of the world’s most dangerous waves.

Useldinger learned the hard way last winter after tearing an anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus, a knee injury that kept her out of the water for seven months.

It happened after she paddled over the lip of a rogue wave that pulled her and her nine-foot surfboard backward into the pit of a good 20-foot Mavericks wave.

“There was an explosion on my knee,” Useldinger said. “Basically, it blew it to pieces. I told myself, ‘Forget about the knee. Just survive.’ It is so dark and black” in the undertow, or what Mavericks surfers call the “Cauldron.” “It’ll let you up halfway and then push you down again.”

The experience humbled Useldinger, who for the first time had asked fellow surfers for help.

No one surfed Mavericks until 1975 when Jeff Clark, a Half Moon Bay teenager, went out on a medium-sized day. He rode the break alone until 1990 when a handful of Santa Cruz surfers joined him. Now as many as 50 regularly ride the place named after a local surfer’s dog, though it normally doesn’t break more than a dozen times each winter.

About half of those Santa Cruz surfers are invitees or alternates in the 2007 Mavericks Surf Contest, which will be held sometime before March 31 — when Clark and his fellow organizers deem the conditions just right. Gerhardt’s husband Mike is a veteran of the contest. Sarah Gerhardt herself was the first female to be invited, though as an alternate, in 2001.

Might there eventually be a women’s-only contest at Mavericks? The leaders of the charge say that’s not an immediate priority.

“What’s next is guys not being leery of us on big waves,” said Useldinger, whose mother Anne Bayly was a professional surfer two decades ago.

Although it takes confidence and aggression to handle roaring surf, Useldinger says she doesn’t want to lose her femininity in the water. Useldinger likes that she stands out.

“It is almost more fun to be feminine, because my whole world is surrounded by a macho industry,” she said.

Useldinger doesn’t welcome every woman to the big-wave lineup because of the serious commitment it takes. Her preparation includes running underwater in the ocean carrying a large rock, long-distance swimming and paddling heavy surfboards. She also mixes in yoga and singing as ways to train her lungs for long holddowns.

Useldinger encourages only the ones who have a deep desire to challenge themselves.

“I don’t want to be responsible for their injuries or deaths,” she said.

Useldinger believes she was meant to surf because her mother rode waves until a week before she was born. Like Naomi Gerhardt, she was on board with the ocean long before she even entered this world. Someday she’ll probably be able to exchange big-wave stories with Naomi.

“It has a huge part to do with my life,” Useldinger said. “It will play a huge part with Naomi’s life as well.”


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Nicole Atherton Claims Billabong ASP World Jr. Women’s Crown Sun, 07 Jan 2007 16:28:37 +0000 Administrator FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


Billabong ASP World Junior Championships
(January 1-8 2007)

See the event LIVE on or


North Narrabeen, Australia (Sat. Jan 6, 2007) – After a putting a on a tremendous performance in the one metre (three foot) Narrabeen beach-breaks Nicola Atherton (AUS) has taken out the girls division of the most prestigious junior professional surfing event on the planet – the Billabong ASP World Junior Championships.

It was red letter day for the future of women’s surfing as the performance bar was raised dramatically as the two finalists went blow for blow, displaying that with their complete range of new school tricks and old school power carves they are in fact the real deal and will go on to conquer great heights.

For Atherton, who finished runner up to Jessi Miley-Dyer (AUS) in the inaugural event last year it was a well deserved win as she notched up an 8.17 for throwing down some major turns.

From there she never looked in doubt as her foe Anali Gomez of Peru struggled to find a wave that would allow her to let loose.

“I’m just feeling relief at the moment! I can’t describe how good it feels,” said a jubilant Atherton. “I don’t think it’s hit me yet. I’m just glad that it’s over and I did it and have got that thing off my back! I’m a world champion [laughs]… I set out to do this and have been thinking about it for six months. It is my last junior event and what a way to cap it off!”

By taking the win Atherton follows in the footsteps of her good friend and current world number four Jessi Miley-Dyer who claimed victory here last year.

Both hail from the small Sydney beach of Bronte and Atherton claims that their upbringing and their rivalry has been the driving force behind their success.

“Bronte is a tiny beach yet we tend to breed a lot of good surfers,” said Atherton. “It’s a small environment which in turn develops some good rivalries. Plus we’re surrounded by all the guys who always talk to us about our surfing, which amps us up. Jessi has always been an inspiration for me so to follow her in taking out this title feels amazing.”

Of her fellow finalist Atherton was fully aware that she had to be on her toes right throughout the 30-minute affair.

Having surfed against Gomez in other events she expected the going to be tough despite Gomez’s relative anonymity.

“Anali is an amazing surfer,” said Atherton. “Not many people know about her, yet she is capable of throwing down some 9.0 rides… I’ve seen her go mental on her backhand before… she’s a fantastic surfer and a great friend.”

As for her being on stage at the ASP World Champions Banquet in just over a month’s time…

“I didn’t know I had to do that!” squealed Atherton. “I’m going to be a mumbling mess when I have to stand on stage with Layne Beachley and Kelly Slater!”

For Gomez, the runner-up finish is a career highlight and despite going so close but yet so far to getting a win she was overwhelmed with her result.

“I’m so happy,” said Gomez who speaks little English. “I would like to say congratulations to Nicola… she did so well. Thank you very much Australia… I love it here.”

Finishing in equal third was event favourite Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) and Hawaiian up and comer Coco Ho.

Both surfed exceptionally well throughout the early rounds and at the end of the day showed that if the waves had gone their way they were definitely title contenders.

Gilmore in particular was emotional about the semifinal defeat but was philosophical that in the end it would only make her hungrier for success.

“I was just floating around out there,” said Gilmore. “I was undecided about whether to sit on the left or the rights so I sat in the middle like an idiot. But at the end of the day this will just me hungrier.”

Ho meanwhile enjoyed her experience and with a few more years left in junior competition will no doubt gain confidence and in future go all the way.

“I really enjoyed coming here,” said Ho. “And hopefully next time I’ll be a little stronger and will do a little better.”

Of the men’s today Matt Wilkinson (AUS) stood the event on its ear with his demolition of fellow Aussie Mitch Coleborn.

Locking in three scores over 9.0 after launching some huge aerial turns he put on the standout performance of the event to date scoring a total of 18.37 out of 20.

“I was watching for a while before the heat and saw that the rights were better,” said Wilkinson. “I picked off a 9.0 to start with and gained plenty of confidence from it and just went on from there. I just hope I haven’t peaked too early!”

The men’s division round four will be completed today and tomorrow it is expected that the quarterfinals will hit the water at around 8am.

Stay tuned to or for all the updates.

For transcribed athlete quotes, audio downloads and all the results head to the media centre of the above sites.

Women’s Final results:


Heat 1: Anali Gomez (PER) 11.50 def Alize Arnaud (FRA) 8.24
Heat 2: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 15.17 def Pauline Ado (FRA) 9.10
Heat 3: Nicola Atherton (AUS) 11.47 def Lee Ann Curren (FRA) 9.00
Heat 4: Coco Ho (HAW) 9.43 def Leila Hurst (HAW) 9.00

Semifinal 1: Anali Gomez (PER) 9.84 def Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 9.73
Semifinal 2: Nicola Atherton (AUS) 10.67 def Coco Ho (HAW) 9.67

Final: Nicola Atherton (AUS) 11.84 def Anali Gomez (PER) 9.50

Men’s Round Four Results (at time of going to press):

Heat 1: Hank Gaskell (HAW) 16.83 def Hideyoshi Tanaka (JPN) 14.00
Heat 2: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 18.37 def Mitch Coleborn (AUS) 12.50
Heat 3: Thiago Camarao (BRA) 17.17 def Heitor Pereira (BRA) 15.50
Heat 4: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 12.76 def Dusty Payne (HAW) 10.90

Heat 5: Jordy Smith (ZAF) vs jean Sebastien (FRA)
Heat 6: Dion Atkinson (AUS) vs Pierre-Valentin Lombard (FRA)
Heat 7: Julian Wilson (AUS) vs Torrey Meister (HAW)
Heat 8: TJ Barron (HAW) vs Mason Ho (HAW)

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GILMORE STAKES A VICTORY CLAIM AT BILLABONG ASP WORLD JUNIOR CHAMPIONSHIPS Sat, 06 Jan 2007 02:55:29 +0000 Administrator North Narrabeen, Australia (Fri. Jan 5, 2007) – Budding women’s surfing super star Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) stole the show at the Billabong ASP World Junior Championships as she put on a phenomenal display in impish one metre (three foot) waves at North Narrabeen today.

Locking in the highest wave score of the day for both men’s and women’s – a 9.17 – Gilmore romped home in front of her counterpart from Japan, Sayuri Hashimoto, to book a berth in the women’s quarterfinals and looks to be in devastating form and on target for an event win.

On her “killer” wave Gilmore linked together a series of hard-edged turns and had the crowd hooting with appreciation.

“I managed to get a nice little wave that allowed to link together more turns that I expected,” said Gilmore. “And the judges obviously liked what I did!”

Yet despite the victory looking like it came to her easily, Gilmore indicated that she had to be on her toes right throughout the heat.

“Sayuri wasn’t to be underestimated at all,” said Gilmore. “If she had better waves she could have won for sure. I was just stoked I managed to grab a few little waves and come home with a win.”

Gilmore, who has qualified for the ASP Women’s World Tour in 2007, returned to the junior ranks for this event in the hope of winning so she could lay claim to world title status and stand alongside Layne Beachley (AUS) and Kelly Slater (USA) at the ASP World Champions Banquet coming up in just over a month’s time.

Plus she indicated that a victory here would be a great way to start off what she hopes will be a stellar 2007.

“You can’t turn down an invitation for a world title,” said Gilmore. “Especially since the event is only in its second year. I’d really love to be up there at the ASP Banquet alongside Layne Beachley and Kelly Slater. That would be a real honour. Plus it would be a huge confidence boost and a great start to the year to claim a win here.”

Gilmore also gained praise from her fellow competitors with last year’s runner-up Nicola Atherton (AUS), who also won through to round four today, claiming that she will be the one to beat.

“Steph was amazing today,” said Atherton. “To get the score that she did today was incredible. She is definitely the one to watch.”

In the men’s division Mitch Coleborn (AUS) and Matt Wilkinson (AUS) headed the list of standouts with both executing some incredible aerial and tail sliding turns on their way to their respective heat wins.

Coleborn, who had to fight his way through the trials to make the main event, looked dangerous and indicated that he is confident he can go all the way.

“There’s still a lot of big names in the event,” said Coleborn. “And the next couple of days will be solid. But I’m feeling confident and hopefully I’ll get to the final and then look to taking it out.”

Wilkinson however will have other ideas as the two are now scheduled to meet in the next round.

The man they call “Wilko” was all over everything today and came home with a resounding win over Mexican surfer Angelo Lozano.

He did indicate though that at times throughout the heat he felt worried that the waves were not going to cooperate.

“The waves stopped breaking for a while and I got a bit worried,” said Wilkinson. But luckily I managed to get a few away and make it through.”

Wilkinson realises now that he has his work cut out for him in the next round against Coleborn but he was philosophical, pitching that whatever the result at least one Australian will make the event’s quarterfinals.

“Having Mitch Coleborn next will be hard,” said Wilkinson. “But every heat here is hard so it doesn’t matter who you draw. It sucks that I’m surfing against another Aussie but by the same token at least one Aussie will make the quarters.”

Of the internationals the number one seed Adriano de Souza (BRA) stood tall as he held off a spirited challenge from a 14-year-old Tahitian Tamaroa McComb.

Staying in the race right until the final hooter McComb showed he has plenty of potential and de Souza was full of praise.

“Yeah he did really well,” said de Souza. “I was lucky to get those waves and come home with a win.”

Hank Gaskell from Hawaii was also one to impress as he smoothly tore apart numerous righthand-breaking waves to inch through to the next round.

“It’s small and inconsistent but every now and again there are a few that line up where you can get some turns in, said Gaskell. “I don’t surf the lefts very well here as they tend to run away from you but I love the little rights with the wedges along the way – it’s a lot like home.”

Competition will be called off at the end of men’s heat 12 and will resume tomorrow after contest director Luke Egan assesses the early morning conditions.

Stay tuned to or for all the updated information.

Today’s results at time of going to press:

Women’s Round Three Heat Results:

Heat 1: Alize Arnaud (FRA) 12.16 def Nikita Robb (ZAF) 11.84

Heat 2: Anali Gomez (PER) 11.00 def Nao Omura (JPN) 5.33
Heat 3:Pauline Ado (FRA) 9.50 def Airini Mason (NZL) 8.97
Heat 4: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 14.20 def Sayuri Hashimoto (JPN) 9.17
Heat 5: Nicola Atherton (AUS) 10.47 def Kirstie Jones (AUS) 9.76
Heat 6: 1. Lee Ann Curren (FRA) 11.66 def Marina Werneck (BRA) 7.57
Heat 7: Coco Ho (HAW) 15.50 def Sage Ericson (USA) 7.10
Heat 8: 1. Leila Hurst (HAW) 11.67 def Erica Hosseini (USA) 8.03

Men’s Round Three Heat Results:

Heat 1: Hank Gaskell (HAW) 15.66 def Rory Beach (ZAF) 9.47
Heat 2: Hideyoshi Tanaka (JPN) 15.00 def Nobuyuki Osawa (JPN) 9.36
Heat 3: Mitch Coleborn (AUS) 15.16 def Luke Cheadle (AUS) 6.13
Heat 4: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 11.33 def Angelo Lozano (MEX) 8.33
Heat 6: Heitor Pereira (BRA) 16.44 def Granger Larson (HAW) 10.50
Heat 7: Dusty Payne (HAW) 10.90 def Marc Lacomare (FRA) 8.77
Heat 8: Adriano de Souza (BRA) def Tamarao McComb (PYF)
Heat 9: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 14.67 def Bernado Martins (BRA) 9,84
Heat 10: Jean Sebastien (FRA) 10.66 def Eric Geiselman (USA) 10.43

Remaining heats:

Heat 11: Dion Atkinson (AUS) vs Brandon Jackson (ZAF)
Heat 12: Dylan Graves (PRI) vs Pierre Valentin (FRA)
Heat 13: Sam Page (AUS) vs Julian Wilson (AUS)
Heat 14: Gavin Gillette (HAW) vs Torrey Meister (HAW)
Heat 15: TJ Barron (HAW) vs Wade Goodall (AUS)
Heat 16: Mason Ho (HAW) vs Casey Brown (HAW)

Women’s Quarterfinals:

Heat 1: Alize Arnaud (FRA) vs Anali Gomez (PER)
Heat 2: Pauline Ado (FRA) vs Stephanie Gilmore (AUS)
Heat 3: Nicola Atherton (AUS) vs Lee Ann Curren (FRA)
Heat 4: Coco Ho (HAW) vs Leila Hurst (HAW)


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Sports Illustrated Finds Surfers Sexy Thu, 28 Dec 2006 14:20:24 +0000 Administrator Sports Illustrated Magazine recently featured 20 hot female athletes. Two of them are surfers!

Check it out to see Veronika Kay and Tara Dakides.

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Pura Vida Adventures In Costa Rica Thu, 28 Dec 2006 14:17:01 +0000 Administrator Pura Vida Adventures a surf camp for women located in the seaside village of Malpais, Costa Rica, announces a new home closer to their favorite surf break at the Swiss-owned boutique hotel, The Place.

The resort features stylish bungalows and a relaxing atmosphere, completing the Pura Vida Adventures experience. For the active gal yearning to get away from it all but wanting her downtown gal amenities, Pura Vida Adventures – set along the lush Pacific coast – offers just the right place to relax, unwind and embrace the vitality of the adventure of learning to surf.

Escaping the urban jungle for the subtropical jungles and famed surf-breaks of Malpais, Costa Rica, expert and not-so-experienced surfers are transformed by the magical and tranquil atmosphere of the ambient oasis of Malpais during their week-long surf adventure. Surfers set out for daily surf lessons with Pura Vida Adventure’s instructors, who bring infectious energy and a hands-on personal approach to teaching beginners to surf, and enhancing the experienced surfer’s skills.

Surfers embrace the peace and tranquility of daily yoga at sunrise or sunset, and a one-hour massage; activities designed to keep each surfer balanced, flexible and aware. Three fabulously cooked meals nourish the gourmet in each surf diva. The days while at Pura Vida Adventures wind down to relaxing poolside at The Place, with all the amenities a downtown girl could ask for, including an introductory Spanish lesson.

As the evenings heat up, bonfires, BBQ’s and the sultry Tropicana Salsa night beckon. Downtime activities include snorkeling through coral reefs, and hiking the nature reserve.

With the philosophy of offering expert surf instruction in a cultural setting with a wellness component, Pura Vida is noted as an enriched experience that literally changes the lives of the women who seek out the simple ‘Pure Life’ characteristic of Pura Vida Adventures. The experience entices a surfer’s inner child to play in Costa Rican waters, learning to surf in a supportive, inspired environment.

Featured in the The New York Times, Vogue and The Miami Herald, Pura Vida Adventures was founded by Tierza Davis, a seasoned traveler who ended up turning a global surf adventure into Pura Vida Adventures, establishing one of the most thriving, and authentic surf camps for women in Costa Rica.

Several times throughout the year, Pura Vida Adventures extends a co-ed invitation to a surf diva’s male cohort, such as the celebrated New Year’s Eve ten-day camp. The Pura Vida Adventure surf safari is a six-day, seven night camp. Rates start at $1540 per week for a shared bungalow, or $1780 per week for a private bungalow. The cost of the surf safari includes accommodations, food, surf instruction, massage, daily yoga, private Spanish lesson, salsa lesson, and daily outings.

About Pura Vida Adventures
Pura Vida Adventures was founded by surfer Tierza Davis to introduce women to the magical sport of surfing in a culturally rich location. A world traveler and self-described ‘water girl,’ Tierza found an undeniable connection with the Costa Rican people and culture. She has created these camps to introduce women to the Costa Rican ‘Pura Vida.’ Literal translation: Life is good. Pura Vida Adventures is the pure life, with a focus on expert instruction for women learning to surf. Tierza found the meaning of ‘Pura Vida,’ and, inspired to share it with others, opened Pura Vida Adventures in 2003.

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Back on the board: Wahine event inspires surfer in comeback Wed, 23 Aug 2006 23:42:32 +0000 Administrator 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


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Newest women’s surf magazine is all Wet Tue, 22 Aug 2006 23:40:35 +0000 Administrator 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 — 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 — “just like the guys’ magazines, everybody sees that. Month in and month out its the same people, and the story’s never new” — 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 — 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 — 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 — who now make up about a third of the estimated 2 million U.S. surfers — 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 — both men and women — 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


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BILLABONG GIRLS PRO BRAZIL ON HOLD Tue, 22 Aug 2006 23:39:16 +0000 Administrator Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 21 August, 2006 : – - ITACARÉ, Brazil. The Billabong Girls Pro Brazil, the fourth of eight events on the 2006 ASP Women’s World Tour, entered its official eight-day waiting period at Praia da Tiririca, Itacaré today.

A five-star World Qualifying Series (WQS) competition, held at the same venue, wrapped up proceedings yesterday. Former ASP Women’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.

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

With a several days of surfing Praia da Tiririca (the wave is new to the ASP Women’s World Tour this year) under their belt, the world’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 ‘Praia’ (beach in Portugese). The rest of the field better bring their ‘A’ 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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Summer 2006 Marks the Tenth Anniversary of Surf Diva Sun, 16 Jul 2006 00:38:33 +0000 Administrator Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 14 July, 2006 : – - La Jolla, CA, – Summer 2006 marks the tenth anniversary of the Surf Diva Surf School and the school continues to offer great programs to its students all summer long! One of Surf Diva’s most successful programs is Women’s Boarding School.

There are two boarding school options available – one for teenage girls and one for adult women. Both camps run for 6 days and offer morning and afternoon surf lessons each day. Lessons are given by the best surf instructors in the world – all expert surfers, experienced surf instructors and CPR and life saving certified.

The Boarding School program is great for women who want to take part in an intensive surfing course that will really help them progress to the next level. The group setting also provides a great environment for women and teens to meet others who share their passion for surfing and the surf lifestyle.

Surf lessons are complimented by a range of other fun activities including sampling La Jolla’s shopping, a trip to Scripps Aquarium and exercise classes taught by our resident personal training specialist. Evening entertainment is also provided including surf movie screenings and live music. Teen campers will also be given a guided tour of UCSD campus.

This year Boarding School is being held “Diva-Style” at the beautiful University of California, San Diego (UCSD) residence halls. These fully equipped residence halls overlook Torrey Pines National Park, one of the most beautiful areas in Southern California just five minutes from the beach.

Other great programs available through Surf Diva for women are the week-long intensive day camps, and the ever popular Weekend Group Clinics. Weekend clinics are available every weekend year-round. Surf Diva will also be offering the third season of “Costa Rica Surf Adventures” in the tropical paradise of Costa Rica. This program will start again in November 2006.

The Surf Diva Boutique is located at 2160 Avenida de la Playa, La Jolla, CA 92037. For more information on Surf Diva surfing programs or the Surf Diva Surf Boutique,or call 858-454-8273.

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Kim Wooldridge Sat, 06 May 2006 23:52:33 +0000 Administrator Helly Hansen Welcomes Kim Wooldridge to the Team

Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 5 May, 2006 : – - Oslo, Norway – Surfer Kim Wooldridge from Australia is the first surfer to join the Helly Hansen Global team. Here she will join a group of top athletes all living the dream and taking their passion and sports to new levels.

Kim is a veteran surfer that keeps ripping it up on waves all over the world. Her cutbacks are known to be as fierce, or even more so than some of the top guys.

Kim has been held responsible for pushing women’s surfing up to the level where it is today.

The girl from Austinmer in NSW has been surfing since she was five. The last 13 years she has been touring the world as a pro. Helly Hansen is excited to have such a strong surfer and personality on board to help us continually improve our watersports products.

Kim works hard to get more people involved in surfing and is a strong advocate for female surfers of all ages. We are really looking forward to working with her.

Have a look at Kim’s website.

Helly Hansen has manufactured technical outdoor apparel since 1877.Today the brand is recognized as a global leader in technical apparel and shoe designs for a range of alpine and water sports activities. Helly Hansen products are distributed in more than 40 countries. For more information or to locate a dealer visit

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‘Surfer Magazine’ goes green using recycled paper Thu, 04 May 2006 15:42:29 +0000 Administrator Patagonia Helps Underwrite Cost of Paper

Ventura, CA – March 17, 2006. Patagonia, Inc., the outdoor apparel company, announced today their partnership with SURFER Magazine to move the magazine’s paper content from virgin to partially recycled fiber. Patagonia will help support the transition by sharing in the increased cost of paper for each issue of the magazine. Beginning with the June 2006 issue, which goes on sale May 1st, SURFER Magazine will be printed on 25% post-consumer waste recycled paper.

“We hope to see recycled paper become the industry standard for surf publications,” noted Rob Bondurant, Executive Vice President of Marketing at Patagonia. “We applaud SURFER for taking this step. When they came to us with this idea, we backed them 100%. Although the initial costs of moving to a more environmentally-sensitive alternative can add up, we’ve been able to prove that every choice that we’ve made for the environment has more than paid itself back” In 1984, Patagonia became the first company in the U.S. to use recycled paper in their mail order catalogs.

SURFER Magazine has the largest worldwide distribution of any surf publication. It is distributed to over 70 countries worldwide, and prints over 480 million pages annually. “The environmental impact will be significant,” explains SURFER publisher, Rick Irons. “We have estimated that by using 25% recycled paper in each issue, every year we’ll save 4,431 trees from being cut down, 13 garbage trucks of solid waste from heading to the dump, and 29 homes could be powered for a year by the energy saved.” With paper costs increasing just under a penny a page, prices are being raised one dollar per issue at newsstands – with SURFER and Patagonia making up the remaining difference.

SURFER Magazine first utilized recycled paper for the November 2005 issue at the request of guest editors Jack Johnson, musician, and Chris Malloy, Patagonia Ambassador. “The response from our readers was overwhelmingly positive,” noted Rick Irons. “No one is more closely tied to the environment than surfers. By choosing recycled paper we are reducing our reader’s burden on the environment and honoring their requests to be more environmentally conscious.”

Patagonia, with sales last year of $240M, is noted internationally for its commitment to product quality and environmental activism. Its Environmental Grants Program has contributed over $23M to grassroots environmental activists since the program began in 1985, and its Environmental Internship Program allows employees to work for environmental groups while receiving their full paycheck. Incorporating environmental responsibility in to product development, the company has, since 1996, used only organically grown cotton in its clothing line. In September 2005, the company became the first in the U.S. to launch a garment take-back recycling initiative with their Common Threads Recycling Program. Patagonia’s 2006-07 “Oceans as Wilderness” environmental campaign focuses on the threats that unsustainable fishing practices, habitat destruction and contamination pose to the marine environment.

Upon its inception in 1960, SURFER Magazine brought a unity of voice and vision to an otherwise niche and fragmented sport. Today the publication is widely recognized as “the bible of the sport,” the driving force in the surf world, and a shaping force of the surf lifestyle at large. SURFER has the largest worldwide distribution of any surf publication and is distributed in over 70 countries worldwide.

Press contacts:

PATAGONIA, Coley Malloy, (805) 667-4878,
PATAGONIA, Jen Rapp, (805) 667-4768,

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Yakutat welcomes those searching for the perfect wave Mon, 24 Apr 2006 22:17:06 +0000 Administrator By MELISSA LARSEN
The New York Times

Published: April 23, 2006

YAKUTAT — “I should get on with you,” said a female flight attendant with a wink as I boarded a plane headed from Anchorage to Yakutat. “You’re the only woman on here.”

I smiled and waited for men with salt-and-pepper hair and bellies hanging over their belts to load fishing rods into overhead bins and take their seats. The man I ended up next to smelled of pipe tobacco and engine oil. He was a local from Cordova who told me about a Yakutat bartender who once blew away a patron with a shotgun for being “annoying.” It happened about 10 years ago; I can ask anybody, he said.

So what’s a nice young lady like me doing in a place like this, he asked.

Surfing, I replied.

The man was startled and then laughed. Now, why would anyone come all this way for that?

Why, indeed. The price of a plane ticket to southeastern Alaska can rival the price of one to Indonesia or other dream surfing destinations that do not require a thick wetsuit, booties, a down jacket and rain gear. And, as a World Championship Tour surfer nervously pointed out one afternoon by a beach bonfire made from soggy driftwood and gasoline, tropical beaches don’t have bears lurking in the nearby woods.

Bears are a threat that none of the locals can tell us how to properly handle. Be loud, the locals tell us, but not aggressive. Wave your arms, but never look them in the eye. And, for heaven’s sake, don’t run. Attacks are rare, they say, except for that one incident three weeks earlier with the ranger who had to be medevacked to Anchorage.

What Alaska does have (besides bears, eagles, wolves, whales, seals, otters, hawks, king salmon, old-growth forests, actively calving glaciers, the highest coastal mountain range in the world and the northern lights) is thousands of miles of coastline, broken up by hundreds of river mouths and dotted with small islands. The coastline has untold numbers of surf breaks that have yet to be charted, much less ridden, by anyone.

In a sport where uncrowded spots are not only coveted but fiercely guarded, and in a culture where the quest for pristine waves is an integral part of the experience, this alone is enough to pique the curiosity of hardy surfers.

A reward waiting for those spirited enough to make this journey is water warmer than one would expect. The Kuroshio current flows north from Japan to southern Alaska, resulting in average temperatures in the mid-40s to mid-50s. Even armed with this knowledge, it is still surprising to enter the ocean in full view of the 18,008-foot, snow-covered Mount St. Elias and find that the water feels warmer than that off the coast of Northern California. The waves may not always be spectacular, but the scenery is.

Yakutat (population 800), a town with only two paved roads and no way in or out save by boat or plane, lies 212 miles northwest of Juneau and 342 miles southeast of Anchorage.

It’s at the midpoint of more than 300 miles of sandy beaches off the Gulf of Alaska, and it’s home to about two dozen surfers. Friendly surfers. Surfers who are not only willing to tell you which dirt road leads to the best waves but who also will help pull your rusted rental car, a 1980 Ford Bronco 4×4, out of whatever bog you manage to get stuck in on the way. For a small price, they’ll even help you charter a small fishing boat or Bush plane (or a neighbor’s skiff) to hunt for breaks past where the roads end.

The self-named “Surf City, Alaska” has been called one of the five “best surf towns” in America by Outside magazine and was rated 39th out of 100 adventure spots by National Geographic Adventure.

Whether these claims are justified is a matter of debate. The truth behind them, though, is that in an effort to find an economically viable, resource-friendly alternative to its staple sportfishing industry, Yakutat has been promoting itself as a surf-friendly outpost.

Near the end of our trip, we heard that one of the surfers in our group, six-time world women’s champion Layne Beachley, was to be given the key to the city at a cookout in our honor.

The rumor was almost true. After a feast of game caught and prepared by various attendees, Casey Mapes, Yakutat’s soft-spoken mayor, stood and read a resolution endorsing surfing that had been written and adopted by the City Council.

It was long, filled with seemingly endless “wherein” statements and somewhat hard to follow. But later, on the ride home, we agreed that it meant essentially this:

“We appreciate that surfers enjoy, rather than exploit, the natural resources of our beautiful home, and we would be very happy if more of you came to visit. You’re our kind of tourists. With love, Surf City, Alaska.”

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