Women surfing

Interview with the Women + Waves Surfing Society

We're celebrating international women's day by shining a light on communities that are empowering women in watersports. We were really excited to catch up with Women + Waves founder, Rachel Murphy and find out more about the surf society:

Hi Rachel! Tell us a bit about Women + Waves and why you set it up:

Women + Waves was a full passion project for me, I had always worked in the ‘surfing world’ of surf schools and surf travel, yet I struggled to find the time to actually go surf with my mates. Back in late 2017, I had the idea and objective to surf every ‘Wednesday’ no matter what the conditions were, with a bunch of mates and just go have a laugh - which would ultimately hopefully lead to us all getting better at surfing and building our confidence in all conditions. It didn’t matter if you surfed, bodyboarded, swam or just dipped your toes in, it was just about getting in together.  So, a few of us started meeting up each week, every Wednesday after work which organically grew to a whole crew of us of around 40+ people at the end of the summer! It was amazing!
Eventually, I had more and more women wanting lessons and coaching, so this is where we created a surf package for those who wanted to get more out of their surfing. From this, Women + Waves grew to where we are today with a full year of weekly events, offering not just surfing, but also stand up paddle boarding, bodyboarding, wild swimming, international trips and training courses.

What additional challenges do you think women face in surfing and have you seen improvements since you started Women + Waves?

It’s crazy now, when I look around at my local lineup sometimes it’s over 50% women!  Back in the day, it was probably less than 10% of women in the water. I think the original challenges were the fear of bigger waves and sometimes the lineup may have felt intimidating. However, now with so much beginner equipment available on the market, and the option to learn with other women in a non-pressured environment where they can be taught the fundamentals so they can surf solo comfortably in the future, it makes it so much more accessible for everyone. Education is key, once anyone understands their fears and breaks them down, it’s not so scary or intimidating anymore, it’s just the fear of the unknown, at Women + Waves we offer the tools to help with this and we see drastic improvements.

What do you think the benefits of getting involved in surfing are for women?

For me, surfing is a full meditation - I know that sounds like a cliche, but I am a completely different person after a surf. I think most surfers would agree, it’s like a state of euphoria. I’m more motivated, clear-headed and generally in a better mindset. The mental health benefits are just incredible, and we see this time and time again during our Women + Waves weekends. Surfing releases so many endorphins and it can really change people's lives for the better. 

There are also many other benefits including your physical strength and cardiovascular health, and not to mention it improves your coordination and balance.

I think my personal favourite is how surfing helps me sleep! Every time I surf, I sleep like a log! 

And if all that’s not enough, surfing also gives your skin a post-surf glow!

When I’m feeling surf fit, I feel physically and mentally powerful and that’s what I hope other women want to achieve when they surf too.

What has been a highlight of the project for you to date?

A huge highlight for me would be that we’ve recently just partnered with Rip Curl to support our Surf Academy (and some other exciting things are in the pipeline that I cannot disclose just yet). Growing up, Rip Curl has always been the kingpin of the surfing world for me, so to work with them has been a dream come true and I can’t wait to work with them more.

What have you got coming up that you're excited about?

Now with Covid restrictions loosening up all over the world, I’m really excited about relaunching our international trips again! I just got back from El Salvador to visit our team on the ground over there and it’s really given me the travel bug again, and it was so lush to surf in a bikini in warm waters again! So, for the next 12 months, we’re not far from launching surf trips to Morocco and El Salvador.

Any top tips for women who want to get into surfing or try it out for the first time?

I honestly really recommend a surf lesson or two (or even better one of our Beginner Surf Programmes), like myself, when I first started, you can waste a lot of time trying to work it out on your own and repeatedly doing the wrong thing and not improving - which normally either results in getting very frustrated or plateauing fast. It’s best to get it right from the start with professionals who can also explain ocean safety and the fundamentals of surfing in a way that makes sense to you. Video analysis is also a game-changer and with the correct guidance and support, lessons will ultimately fast track you to becoming a great surfer. 

If anyone would like to learn or progress in their surfing, check out our Rip Curl Surf Academy, it doesn’t matter what ability you are, where you’re from or your age, there is something to suit everyone. 90% of people attend solo and make friends for life. Check it out, we’d love to welcome you onboard: https://womenandwavessociety.com/surf-academy/


Written by Lucy Harris.

Published on 8th March 2022 in Bodyboarding

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