The Blue Crush Phenomenon
Girl surfers begin hitting the waves en masse.
If your local break seems to have suddenly gained a large female contingent, you're not alone. While only a couple years ago you'd be hard-pressed to find one girl out in the water, the summer of 2002 seems to have been struck by the “Blue Crush Phenomenon.”
While the surf industry remains mixed in its opinion of the film, box-office totals are speaking for themselves. The film opened on August 16 at number three and grossed 33.6-million dollars in its first three weeks in theaters. It appears that Blue Crush will soon be the top-grossing mainstream surf film, passing up Point Break, which took in 43.2-million dollars during its box-office run.
The movie, which chronicles the lives of three female surfers residing on the North Shore, has crammed surf schools full of aspiring young rippers. Cody Steele held a sign-up session for his Del Mar, California-based Code Red Surf School outside a theater on the day Blue Crush was released. “After the movie, the kids were freaking out,” Cody laughs “They all wanted to go surf on the North Shore.” The next day he received numerous calls from Blue Crush moviegoers inquiring about his camp. The trend looks to be widespread. According to Isabelle “Izzy” Tihanyi, founder of Surf Diva Surf School, enrollment for 2002 is expected to reach 5,000 students–double the numbers Surf Diva saw last year.
Retailers and distributors of surfwear and accessories are feeling the effects as well. Jessica Trent Nichols of Billabong USA, who appears as herself in the film, says, “The rashguard Kate Bosworth wears in the movie trailer with the Billabong logo wasn't part of the (Billabong) line before. Because of the movie, we're adding it to our line due to the interest we're getting from retailers about that specific product.”
While the lineup may start resembling lines at Disneyland if the trend continues, the influx of beginners isn't what is tripping most people out. The sport seems to have been infiltrated by girls who can, gasp, actually turn! Have they been in the water all along? Apparently, unless scientists have begun to breed an über-chick with the ability to learn to surf well in one week. Have these surfers been motivated to get in the water more often because of the movie, or has the movie just raised everyone's awareness of the girls being there in the first place? Whatever the reason, we're going to have to get along, boys and girls. So, the next time you see a girl paddling for a wave, think twice before dropping in–they might just be able to make the drop.–S.P.