It used to be that women had to get nearly all their surf tips from the male surfers who dominated the magazines, videos, and contest coverage. Surf videos often packed a more insidious message than exclusion: in between endless footage of guys tearing it up in the water would come the lighter moments — camera shots of mostly faceless boobs, buns, and bods on the beach.
The dominance of males in surfing is hardly over, but those of us who’ve been waiting for its stranglehold on surf coverage to relax can breathe a sigh of relief: The women of surfing are here. In movies like Blue Crush and Disney’s surf-friendly Lilo & Stitch, in videos like Sheryl Crow’s “Soak Up The Sun,” and through the success of practical surfwear for females, the focus on women has moved off the beach and into the ocean.
While no real stats are available to support the claim, it’s fair to say by simply looking around that there’s been a significant increase in the number of women — in particular, young women — who surf. These young surfers are now supported by a network of women-only surf schools. Now, for the first time, a how-to video that addresses the finer points of being a novice female surfer has arrived via Roxy, the same folks who brought young women the first surf trunks designed specifically for them.
Roxy Surf, Now is actually much more than a learn-to-surf video — it celebrates an active, healthy lifestyle and female camaraderie in a naturally flowing style rather than promoting surfing by the numbers. Hosted by and featuring Roxy teamriders Megan Abubo, Veronica Kay, Heidi Drazich, Rachel Greff, Kate Skaratt, Sofia Mulanovich, Carissa Moore, Missy Gibson, Kassia Meador, and Sara Gerhardt, the video starts with a brief history of surfing — including a tidbit about how in ancient Hawai?i, if a woman surfed a wave with a man, then they were courting. The history lesson segues into a montage that further sets the tone: young women in a Jeep rolling along the North Shore, laughing, enjoying themselves — they’re clowning around, surfing, even paddling outrigger canoes into the surf at Waikiki. They seem to be having a blast.
Then the Roxy ladies take turns offering helpful tips and suggestions for beginners, from choosing a board, waxing up, and paddling techniques, to simple reminders of how to keep your body aligned by using the board’s stringer as a marker. The girls maintain a genuinely friendly, helpful tone, as if they were simply bringing a girlfriend out for a surf. Onboard cameras and hookup mics bring a vicarious surf session to viewers for much of the technique instruction.
While the video makes certain to show the team ripping challenging surf in footage culled from recent Roxy trips, there are countless elements you won’t see in the typical male-dominated surf video: the girls discuss sharing waves in the lineup, and they address choosing colors of both surfwear and boards as a form of expression.”We saw a real need for this in the marketplace,” says Roxy Director Of Marketing Amy Patrick. “There’s never been an all-girls learn-to-surf video, and we sponsor such good surfers!” Patrick says some of the most frequent e-mails the company receives on its Web site are requests for surf-camp information from young girls. In fact, the age of Roxy enthusiasts is moving into the even younger age groups, as the Teenie Wahine line recently was redirected for four to seven year olds, and the Roxy Girl line has been introduced to cater to seven to fourteen year olds. “I think Roxy the regular line is aging up a little bit — fourteen to 23, older than our original target.
“Years ago girls who surfed had to be one of the guys,” Patrick continues, “but now they can be fashion-oriented and active — and feminine. It’s a good time for girls in surfing.”Although logic would dictate that the Roxy Surf, Now video would mostly be available in surf shops in coastal regions, in fact tthe vid will be distributed widely throughout the U.S. by Redline, which will also place the video in Virgin, Tower, and Sam Goody stores. Patrick says young women everywhere can relate to the message: “It welcomes girls to the lifestyle. They may get to the West Coast for a vacation, or even be inspired to visit a wave park.”
Certainly the beautiful cinematography and the obvious fun the girls in Roxy Surf, Now are having would be enough to inspire anyone to try surfing. But the profile of women in surf is on a roll that carries through our industry and into the mainstream: the end credits of Surf, Now are accompanied by Crow’s “Soak Up The Sun.” The video for that song not only showcases the joy of surfing for women, but Crow’s actual introduction to it as a novice. “Hey, she’s pretty good for a beginner,” is what one of the supposed filmers wrote on the Sheryl Crow Web site. What we really want to know is if everyone was having a good time.
— Sharon Harrison