Women's surfing


Women's surfing
Coco Ho (2015).jpg
Coco Ho surfing at the 2015 U.S. Open
Highest governing bodyInternational Surfing Association
Mixed genderYes, separate competitions
Country or regionWorldwide
OlympicYes, as of the 2020 Olympics

The earliest recorded incidence of women's surfing concerns the mythical Kelea. Kelea was born of royalty in Maui, it is believed she out-surfed riders of both genders. A few centuries later in the mid-late 1800s, Thrum’s Hawaiian Annual reported that women in ancient Hawaii surfed in equal numbers and frequently better than men.[1][2][3][4][5] Women's surfing in Australia has a popular following amongst female participants.

In the Muslim world many women are taking up surfing.[6][7][8][9][10][11]

Women’s surfing has increased in popularity over the last 50 years.[12]


Surfing most likely started in New Guinea.[13] It was a sport full of culture, fun, and adventure. Surfing was used to explore the oceans and to have fun becoming a part of nature. It spread from New Guinea to Hawaii. It is mostly known to be practiced in Hawaii and the surrounding islands, but it has spread to the rest of the continents. It was not widely accepted by Europeans because it took time away from working and labor, although they enjoyed the excitement of seeing the action of surfing.[14]

Turning points

The California Golden Girls played a huge part in the making Women’s surfing featured.[15] They were pivotal in the 1970 to the 1980 to making people aware of the sport and they gave a face to the once widely known “Men’s Sport.”


In the United States, the most common places you will find women’s surfing would be California and Hawaii because they have the best conditions for surfing. Although you are able to surf in any place that has waves, surfing is mostly found all across the world from Peru, Australia, Indonesia, South Africa, France, Philippines, Ecuador, and anywhere else that has a shore and waves coming in. Tide, time of day, storms miles off shore, and weather can all affect the strength of the waves.[16]

Women surfers and quotations

Bethany Hamilton: She is an American surfer that despite getting attacked by a shark while surfing, and having her arm bitten off, she did not let that stop her from continuing her career as a surfer. She continued to get better and won many competitions following her attack.[17]

“It's hard for me to describe the joy I felt after I stood up and rode wave in for the first time after the attack. I was incredibly thankful and happy inside. The tiny bit of doubt that would sometimes tell me you'll never surf again was gone in one wave.” –Bethany Hamilton

Marge Calhoun: She was a woman surfer who pioneered surfing in Hawaii. She is considered the first women surfing champion. She was indicted into the surfing hall of fame in 2003.[18]

Stephanie Gilmore: “Fear - It's a fine line between that and pushing yourself. You definitely reach new heights when you push. But fear is good. Fear keeps us alive. If we didn't have it, we'd be doing crazy things and getting in sticky situations.” –Stephanie Gilmore.[19]

Carissa Moore: “We all strive to find something unique and special that we are passionate about that separates us from the rest.”[20]

Maya Gabeira is a big wave surfer who was born in Rio de Janeiro. She has five Billabong XXL Global Big Wave Award titles received from 2007–2010 and in 2012. She also won the 2009 ESPY Award for Best Female Action Sport Athlete.[21]

Courtney Conlogue is a 25 year old American professional surfer. In an interview with ESPN she outlined what it takes to be a professional surfer. "I think some people perceive surfing as just a lifestyle sport. This will be my sixth year competing professionally on the World Tour, and to be involved in something like this goes to show that we do fine-tune our bodies in order to be as strong as we can when we enter the water. During the offseason, I train three to five days a week, and then I train every day in the water. Depending on the way the swell is -- because our sport is based on Mother Nature -- when the waves are good, I surf probably six hours a day."[22]


  • Douglas Booth, « From Bikinis to Boardshorts: "Wahines" and the Paradoxes of Surfing Culture », Journal of Sport History, vol. 28, n°1, spring 2001, pp. 3-22.
  • A. Gabbard, Girl in the curl: A century of women in surfing, Seal Press, 2000.
  • (in French) Anne-Sophie Sayeux, « Femmes surfeuses, paroles d'hommes surfeurs : petits arrangements dans l'ordre des genres », in L'Harmattan 2ème congrès international de la Société de Sociologie du Sport en Langue Française, L'Harmattan, Paris, 2007, pp.85-100.
  • L. Heywood, in Anita Harris (ed.), « Third-wave feminism, the global economy, and women's surfing: Sport as stealth feminism in girls' surf culture », Next Wave Cultures: Feminism, Subcultures, Activism, 2008.
  • Krista Comer, Surfer Girls in the New World Order, Duke University Press, 2010.


  1. ^ "Why Are Surf Magazines Erasing Women?". Theestablishment.co. Retrieved 2016-03-22.
  2. ^ "Andrea Moller makes history for women's big wave surfing". Surfer. Retrieved 2016-03-22.
  3. ^ "Inside the Curl: Surfing's Surprising History". National Geographic. Retrieved 2016-03-22.
  4. ^ "Coco Ho On The State Of Women's Surfing". Surfing Magazine. Retrieved 2016-03-22.
  5. ^ Warshaw, Matt (2005). The Encyclopedia of Surfing - Matt Warshaw. ISBN 0156032511. Retrieved 2016-03-23 – via Google Books.
  6. ^ "Bangladeshi surfer girls go against the cultural tide". Los Angeles Times. 2016-04-10. Retrieved 2016-09-10.
  7. ^ "Iran's New Revolution". Mpora. Retrieved 2016-03-22.
  8. ^ "In Iran, where the women school the men on surfing". Public Radio International. 2015-06-18. Retrieved 2016-03-23.
  9. ^ "Muslim women making waves and breaking stereotypes". Drift. Retrieved 2016-09-10.
  10. ^ "Riding the Wave of Feminism: Meet the Female Surfers of Iran". Vice. Retrieved 2016-09-10.
  11. ^ "Iran's Female Surf Pioneers". Surfer. 2014-12-01. Retrieved 2016-09-10.
  12. ^ Harriet Agerholm (2016-09-06). "Girls in Bangladesh are expected to work or marry. These girls surf instead". The Independent. Retrieved 2016-09-10.
  13. ^ Ahrens, Chris (2016-10-10). "A short history of women's surfing – The Coast News Group". Thecoastnews.com. Retrieved 2016-10-27.
  14. ^ Isaiah Walker (2011-07-05). "Womentum: The Women's Movement (in Context)". The Inertia. Retrieved 2016-10-27.
  15. ^ "History of Women's Surfing : The California Golden Girls". Historyofwomensurfing.com. Retrieved 2016-10-27.
  16. ^ "history of women's surfing Archives - The Inspire Initiative™". Theinspireinitiative.org. Retrieved 2016-10-27.
  17. ^ "The inspirational quotes by Bethany Hamilton". Surfertoday.com. 2003-10-31. Retrieved 2016-10-27.
  18. ^ "Entries – Calhoun Family – Encyclopedia Of Surfing". Encyclopediaofsurfing.com. Retrieved 2016-10-27.
  19. ^ "TOP 11 QUOTES BY STEPHANIE GILMORE". A-Z Quotes. 1988-01-29. Retrieved 2016-10-27.
  20. ^ "Carissa Moore". Carissa Moore. 2016-04-30. Retrieved 2016-10-27.
  21. ^ Binns, Chris. "Maya Gabeira: Surfing – Official Athlete Page". Redbull.com. Retrieved 2016-10-27.
  22. ^ Ain, Morty (26 June 2016). "Surfer Courtney Conlogue shares what it takes to be a pro surfer". www.espn.com. ESPN. Retrieved 1 December 2016.