Evelyn O'Doherty

Location: New York

Years Surfing: 15 years

Fave Board: Dewey Weber Quantum #stayclosetothesoul

Instagram: @nysurfgirl

What is your philosophy on surfing? Surfing, for me, is about connecting with the ocean, with myself and my friends. I'm not there to ride the biggest wave (although I will paddle hard for it!) or look cool or be a part of a scene. Ocean time is time for me to really dive deep into who I am at a core level and I value that time deeply. So, if there is an energy in the water or over competitiveness, I just paddle until I find a spot where it doesn't impact me so I can let go and relax. I surf plenty. I catch waves. There's always more coming so - in my mind - there's no need to get too hyped about it. I'm there to have a relationship with myself, my board and the ocean. Anything that gets in the way of that isn't worth my time.

Evelyn on a green wave with a paddle board, paddle dragging in the wave

Most memorable surf moment? I think one of my most memorable surf moments was in Rincon, Puerto Rico on a day the swell was easily 10+ feet. I was sitting pretty far off the peak, but I was mesmerized by what I was witnessing. These big bombs would rise up, bigger, bigger, bigger and someone on the outside would drop in, looking impossibly small on such powerful surf. They would ride, shred, and maneuver across the face of the wave down the line, come past me in a spray off the lip and complete the ride on the inside. I was just stunned by the beauty and power of the ocean and the skill of these fearless riders. I was content to watch. But then... a wave crested on the outside and the guy/gal on the peak wiped out. It rolled through the next section and 5 or 6 people paddled for it, but missed. I realized that wave was headed straight for me! Without thinking, I put my head down, slid onto my board and paddled with everything I had. I felt that wave lift me up, I jumped to my feet and stayed high to pump down the line. It was freaking glorious! That wave was, in my estimation, massive and it allowed me in for a perfect moment, completely unexpected but absolutely necessary. I was able to turn out of the wave before it closed out and landed on my board, breathless and disbelieving. At the time, that was easily the biggest wave of my LIFE. Grinning like a lunatic, I paddled back out and everyone I passed gave me a hoot or a holler. Everyone seemed to know that was a big deal for me. It was. I still don't understand how that wave chose me that day, but it did. And I am a greater person for it.  

How has your surfing life in the water affected the rest of your life on land? After learning to surf at age 38, I lasted another 2 years in my career before I quit. I couldn't thrive when not on or near to the water on a daily basis so I changed my lifestyle to spend more time in the ocean. It was not an easy decision, but one I don't regret and I've counseled several other people through the process. I let go of a lucrative (and safe) career in order to maximize my time on the water and I am a happier, healthier and incredibly grateful person for it. The ocean gives me great strength and supreme humility; it teaches me lessons every day. One of the greatest things about learning to surf has been my new perspective about life on land. What seems so important to me while I'm at my desk (where I now publish a global water sports magazine) slips away when I'm in the ocean or paddling on the bay. I'm able to put life stresses on a shelf and just dive into the present moment. I am unbelievably grateful for this changed perspective. It's given me a well rounded life and a healthier mindset. Lucky me to live so close to the sea ;)

Evelyn in a wetsuit and paddle board on a green wave with white spray


What are ways we as the surf community can collectively protect our oceans? I think as water people, we have a unique relationship with the ocean as we rely upon it to connect to the water, ourselves and experience that freedom that comes from surfing. So, in my opinion, every surfer is obligated to act as a steward to our ocean playgrounds and become an active participant in keeping our waters safe and protected. Most surfers I know are completely on board with this thinking. Most of us 'vote with our wallet' by deliberately choosing products that are plastic free, marine safe and eco-conscious. But one of the ways we can have a real voice is to stand up for Marine Protected Areas and VOTE on legislation that protects regions of the ocean from overfishing and/or development. I am a full advocate for protecting 30% of our oceans by 2030. It is a vital tool in the fight against climate change and the overall health of our planet. I think we are done talking and it is time to ACT, and take a stand for what we love in Mother Ocean. Aloha.

Favorite SeaBlue Product? I really love the upcycled Alchita Wallet. I really love products like this that have a history, were rescued from the ocean and given new life. I have a surf changing mat that is an upcycled sail and a bag that is upcycled as well. I think if we can learn to create these products from the plastic debris already on the Earth. Then we at least stand a chance against drowning in it.