Women's sufing rides into local break

In 1977, very few women were surfing, according to Eastern Surfing Association competitor and local surf artist Bonnie Preziosi. But today there are enough women to warrant women-only contests.
Coastal Point • JOHN DENNY: Rachel Harrell finishes riding a wave during the Eastern Surfing Association's first women-only surf contest, held on the north side of the Indian River inlet.Coastal Point • JOHN DENNY:
Rachel Harrell finishes riding a wave during the Eastern Surfing Association's first women-only surf contest, held on the north side of the Indian River inlet.

The ESA hosted its very first women-only surf contest at the north side of the Indian River Inlet on Saturday, June 18.

As an artist, Preziosi draws a parallel between painting and surfing, noting that every time surfers go out in the water it’s different — just like every painting is different.

“The ocean changes every time you surf. The currents are different, the temperature, the color of the water, the sky, the waves, the marine life, etc… When you paint, every painting is different,” she said.

(Preziosi’s surf art can be seen on her Web site at www.bpwaves.com.)

Competitive surfing had been dominated by men, but six-time Association of Surfing Professional title winner Layne Beachley has brought a new light to surfing – one that has fueled the women’s surfing movement. Beachley’s 25 World Championship Tour victories have shown everyone one thing: women are just as capable surfers as men.

“I think women’s surfing evolved the same way everything else has evolved for women,” said Preziosi. “In the workplace, in sports and daily life — if men could do it, women could, too.”

Now, there are a slew of media outlets that feature women’s surfing, ranging from surf magazines, Web sites, television shows and movies.

“The media has exposed women’s surfing much more in the last few years with the release of the movie ‘Blue Crush’ and the WB show ‘North Shore Boarding House.’ More of the sports networks for television are showing women’s competition,” said Preziosi. “In Australia, surfing is as big as field sports are here. They televise all of the major surfing competitions. And with the use of personal computers giving us access to the whole world, surfing is much more mainstream now.”

Before, sons surfed with their fathers. But now, mothers and daughters commonly enjoy the sport together.

“I think surfing can be a graceful sport, and it’s being noticed by the girls and women,” said Preziosi. “Moms are learning to surf with their kids now and I think it’s great. Just like families taking ski trips, now families are taking surf trips and all surfing together.”

Now that surfing has caught up with women and manufacturers are producing women’s surfing products specifically made for them, the ESA has had to make an effort to attract more female surfers.

“At all of our contests we offer women’s divisions,” said ESA director Art Baltrosky. “But at the all-girl Saltwater Cowgirl Wahine Contest, we offered a beginners division to anyone who hasn’t won a contest and the winner won a 7-foot, 10-inch fun-shaped surfboard.”

Kaitlyn Curran of Whitehaven, Md., surfed her way to victory in that beginners division, earning the new surfboard.

“Right now, we have quite a few girls and women who compete. But we hoping that the beginners division will get more women to compete,” said Baltrosky.

In upcoming surfing events, local surfers Chris Makibbin, Ted Smith, Wyatt Harrison, Vince Boulanger, Mike Lawson and Clifton Rogers will all travel to USA Surfing Championships in Huntington Beach, Calif., June 27 through July 2.

The next scheduled Delmarva ESA event is the 11th Annual Malibus Classic, scheduled for July 16 and 17 at Eighth Street in Ocean City.

For more information about the Delmarva District of the ESA, visit the Web site at www.DelmarvaESA.org or call the contest information line at (410) 213-1374.