Location: Southern California
Years Surfing: 10 years, with a period of about three years of not surfing very much during my PhD studies which was on an island with no surf.
Fave Board: I have a 7'6" fun board we've named the "sea panda" that I love. It was made by an east side of Oahu shaper I picked up second hand when I lived on Oahu. It is so versatile- very floaty, but with a lot of rocker so I feel comfortable on it on larger and faster waves. It's also a quad fin so its fast. Just so, so, so fun.
Who got you started surfing? I grew up in a small town in the mountains of Southern California. My whole family are water babies- my mom says I could swim before I could properly walk. I've wanted to surf my whole life. However, I did not have any surfers in my life and was always too intimidated by the intensity of the line up to learn. That changed when I started a masters degree in marine biology in Long Beach, California. I would occasionally host people from couch surfing, and I got this great surf couple from Germany/Australia who asked to stay a few nights. They were such great house guests they wound up staying on my couch for three months and teaching me how to surf! They were so fantastic, we dawn patrolled almost every day and they made dinner most nights. And now, one of them has gone on to get his PhD in marine biology and has told me he was inspired by me and all of my nerdy grad school friends. So we wound up really impacting each others lives. I often think "Thanks Tim and Bekki!" after a great surf session. Teaching me to surf was one of the best gifts I've ever had in my life.
Best wipeout story? I learned to surf on a midsized fun board, and one of the first times I tried to use a proper longboard I legit almost killed myself. I majorly pearled on about a 6 foot wave, and took a ten foot board to the head. It hit me about an inch to the left of my left eye, and knocked me out cold. I remember coming too underwater and thinking "if you don't get on that board before you pass out again, you're going to die". I managed to get on my board and ride in on the white water. The combination of adrenaline and cold water had totally numbed everything, so I did not realize how serious the wipe out was, and I honestly thought I was just going to wait for my head to clear and paddle back out again. But someone who saw my wipeout came in to check on me and he was like "hey are you ..... OH FUCK! OH FUCK OH FUCK OH FUCK!". That's when I finally looked down and realized I was totally covered in blood, and had chipped my front tooth, and it looked like someone had sandpapered my face. I had to get stitched up and had a chipped front tooth for two years because I was a broke grad student with no health insurance in the US. I met my now husband with that chipped tooth- luckily he saw the potential ;) To this day I'm still wary of big heavy boards. I have a light, performance longboard I love, but I only feel comfortable on logs on waves I know very well, in small conditions. I'll work my way up to them again someday.
What do you love/hate about surf culture? Surfing has come a long way but it's still a bro fest sometimes, especially in cold water locations. When I lived in Hawaii, it was about 50/50 women to men in a lot of lineups and I just loved that. When there are more women in the line up it just changes the energy out there. I can relax more, I get more waves, it just feels more spiritual, community-oriented, fun, and less competitive. My closest friends and most inspiring people in my life are my female surf friends and I am so grateful for surfing bringing them to me. I do strongly dislike being in lineups with all men, and there are still many places like that. For me, surfing is as much spiritual as it is physical and when there are people being very aggressive, being wave hogs, and yelling at each other .... it just throws off my whole vibe. I often wonder why these people even bother surfing because they have definitely missed the point of it. The difference when there's more gender equality out there is palpable. I guess that's the power of feminine energy! We need more of you out there!!!
How has surfing affected your life on land? Man it's hard to talk about this without sounding like a cheeseball, but it really has affected nearly everything! I think it taught me how to let go and really drove home how little control we have in most situations. It taught me how to gently push on my comfort zones, and made me comfortable with being a little scared and then doing the thing anyways. As I've built up my confidence as a water woman, I've also become more confident in my life in general and who I am as a person. It also helped me to see my body differently and take care of it more lovingly, instead of always punishing my body. As a young person I struggled with disordered eating and hated my body type. I always wanted to be very petite and feminine, and I'm 5'8" , broad shouldered, and put on muscle super easily. I HATED that as a young person. But once I started surfing, I gradually started caring more about being strong, balanced, and flexible so I can do this thing I love for the rest of my life, and much less about how I looked or a number on the scale. Surfing is also my best coping mechanism, and every time I feel down about literally anything I know if I go jump in the water for even just an hour I come out feeling like I had my mind cleaned. Sometimes I get into the water with a question and come out knowing the answer. Surfing has made me a better person.