MEDUSA SURF GIRLS-CHANGING THE WAY WE SEE WOMEN IN SURFING
Blonde hair, tanned skin and like, super chill. This is the image that would generally pop into everyone’s mind when asked to think of a surfer. And correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure they would have also pictured a male.
Maybe it’s the skill set required or the potential risks, but for whatever reason, there’s a certain masculinity about the sport and an assumption that it’s one reserved mostly for men. That’s not to say women can’t surf or that they shouldn’t. In fact it’s quite the opposite. However we can’t deny there is a stigma surrounding women in the water and history would prove that to be correct. So how to do we change the way the world perceives surfing? Well first, we need to get more women comfortable and confident enough to give the sport a go.
Enter Suri Schooner. A 34 year old, El Salvador local, surf camp owner and weapon in the water. Except, here’s a fun fact: She’s only been surfing for three years. Suri soon realised how few women there were around her when she was out in the water, both in her home country and in Florida where she spends half of her time, and saw a need for change.
The benefits of surfing are endless. Not just physically (hello arms and abs of steel), but also mentally. Surfing has been proven to increase happiness, clear your mind and act as an emotional stabiliser. It has even been prescribed by doctors for those suffering PTSD.
Suri wanted to share this with other women. She wanted them to experience all of these incredible benefits, without feeling scrutinised or judged.
Her dream to empower and encourage women to get in the water lead her to creating an environment where they could do so comfortably. To break that barrier in women’s minds that stops them from entering the water.
And so Medusa Surf Girls was born. Surf retreats for women of all ages in sunny El Salvador, that focus on not just the physical side of surfing but also its mental benefits. Connecting your mind and body, so she ensured yoga, nutrition and adventure activities were also included in the itinerary.
“When you’re in the water you feel a lot of masculine energy and there are usually very few, if any women in the water, so it can be intimidating to go for waves” Suri says “but I’ll tell you something. When I’m out there with another woman, it changes the situation. The other surfers can see us encouraging each other and they start to do the same for us.”
There was once a time when surfing was only for men. Women weren’t even allowed to wear bikinis let a lone ride a wave, but the times they are a-changing and gender stereotyping is slowly but surely becoming a thing of the past.
The World Surf League (WSL) has acknowledged this and with the push from big name surfers such as Kelly Slater, they have recently announced that from 2019 women will receive the same prize money as men for all WSL events. This acknowledgement from the biggest surfing organisation in the world, that women can do what men can and will be rewarded equally, is a massive step forward. Not only for the female surfing community but for equal rights in general.
So, that’s all well and good, but I can tell you first hand, taking up surfing is intimidating for anyone, no matter what gender you are, which is why learning to do so in a safe, encouraging environment is the perfect way to tackle the sport, which is generally quite hard to master. As for tips on how to start your surf career, Suri believes it’s all about breaking that mental barrier. “We can do whatever we set our mind to. Is surfing difficult? Yes. But so is graduating from University, learning to drive a car, running a business and having a baby. If women can endure the pain of child birth then we can all learn to surf!”
Medusa are running their next Surf + Yoga retreat in El Salvador from November 10th – 17th 2019.
For more information check out www.breathesurf.com
Lisa Keller is a blogger from Australia with a deep passion for the environment which has
stemmed from her love of travel. Through travelling, Lisa has discovered how beautiful and
precious our planet is and has become an advocate for encouraging others to get out and
experience all that Mother Earth has to offer and in turn learn to love and protect her.
You can follow her adventures on Instagram @lisaskeller