There was a time when you would go for a surf and it was rare to see a female in the water. For years you could count the number of female surfers along the Surf Coast on one hand, and women were banned from patrols and competing at local surf life saving clubs.
From the middle of the sixties, Gail Couper from Lorne was one of the most prominent local surfers winning the prestigious Bells Beach Surfing Contest a record ten times.
Regardless of her success at Bells and other national surfing events, few women took up the sport until the turn of the century when surfers like Lisa Anderson, Layne Beachley and Stephanie Gilmore captured the imagination of a generation of young women and suddenly the ocean was full of female surfers riding short boards, long boards and anything they could get their hands on.
The increase of female surfers was matched by a growth of interest in the surf industry. Quiksilver launched their Roxy brand, Rip Curl started making decent wetsuits for women and surf contests started to offer serious prize money for female competitors.
In 2015 Gold Coast surfer Stephanie Gilmore was put on a million dollar a year contract with Quiksilver making her one of the highest paid female athletes not just in Australia but in the world.
Today women’s surfing is a major growth industry as more women hit the waves, more contests are added to the professional circuit and female surfers can be found on television selling everything from professional cameras to cars and watches.
Locally events like the Wild Women Who Surf contest held each year at Point Impossible go a long way to promoting women and surf culture and on the beaches it is not uncommon some days to see more women then men in the water.
My ten year old daughter caught the surf bug this past summer. All of her friends surf so a day at the beach for us can involve dragging multiple longboards down to the waters edge followed by a small gang of giggling girls who are super keen to catch a wave or two.
Watch out boys… the ‘Gidget’s are taking over.
Written by John Foss