Surfer - - Front Page - ASHTYN DOU­GLAS, Man­ag­ing Ed­i­tor

“She’s got balls!” ex­claimed the guy on a short­board pad­dling next to me at a Do­mini­can Repub­lic reef pass, as Anna San­toro started scratch­ing into an over­sized set wave. It was one of the big­gest swells of the sea­son, and chunky over­head walls were hit­ting a shal­low sec­tion and mor­ph­ing into thick-lipped tubes that re­quired ninja-like skills to knife into.

San­toro lived on the North Shore of Oahu for many years, hon­ing her skills at Sun­set, Rocky Point and the outer reefs, so her wave choice wasn’t all-too sur­pris­ing. But it did, ap­par­ently, sur­prise the guy next to me. Clearly, his anatom­i­cally-in­cor­rect com­ment was meant to be a com­pli­ment of San­toro’s abil­ity in con­se­quen­tial surf, but it did get me think­ing. In surf­ing, we’ve his­tor­i­cally judged the aquatic tal­ents of a woman in terms of how they mea­sure up to a man’s. Tyler Wright, Carissa Moore and Steph Gil­more are of­ten praised for surf­ing “as well” as the guys on Tour. Big-wave charg­ers like Paige Alms and Bianca Valenti get props for sit­ting at the peak and “hang­ing with the guys” at Jaws and Mav­er­icks. San­toro’s “got balls,” for stroking into one of the heav­i­est waves of the day.

For the en­tirety of the mod­ern surf­ing era, the “ideal” ap­proach to rid­ing waves has been de­cid­edly mas­cu­line. We’ve tra­di­tion­ally used the top guys on Tour or in the free-surf­ing sphere as a mea­sur­ing stick for what good surf­ing looks like—so nat­u­rally our lan­guage would re­flect that. But the idea that good surf­ing is in­her­ently mas­cu­line is slowly un­rav­el­ing at the seams. If you took a sur­vey of all the line­ups around the world, you’d see that surf­ing is more di­verse than ever, with men and women draw­ing unique lines on var­ied sur­fcraft with styles that span the en­tire spec­trum of fem­i­nin­ity and mas­culin­ity. And as that has hap­pened, the idea of good surf­ing has be­come more widely de­fined—and that’s a good thing.

Fe­male surfers have never been more tal­ented and em­pow­ered than they are to­day, and this is­sue is a front-to-back page cel­e­bra­tion of just that. In the fol­low­ing pages, we take a look at some of the most adept women in surf­ing—not fo­cus­ing how they stack up to their male coun­ter­parts, but how their unique per­spec­tives and ex­pe­ri­ences shape their ap­proach to rid­ing waves and fol­low­ing their pas­sions. We spoke with six women who are carv­ing dis­tin­guished paths in the realms of com­pet­i­tive surf­ing, shap­ing, slab hunt­ing, long­board­ing and beyond (“A Line Of Their Own,” pg. 50). We also heard from some of the best fe­male surf pho­tog­ra­phers about the in­spi­ra­tion they find doc­u­ment­ing women’s surf­ing to­day (“The Fe­male Gaze,” pg. 58). I spent time with pro surfer Bethany Hamil­ton, who, de­spite be­ing one of the most well-rounded and pro­fi­cient surfers on earth, is still try­ing to es­cape the shadow cast by her shark at­tack 15 years ago (“More Than a Sur­vivor,” pg. 30).

When ed­i­tor Todd Pro­danovich first asked me to in­tro­duce this is­sue, my mind started reel­ing. As a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of women in the lineup, but also women as a whole, I felt re­spon­si­ble to ad­dress the many issues women face in 2018, like gen­der dis­crim­i­na­tion, un­equal pay and sexual ha­rass­ment— things that would be im­pos­si­ble to un­pack in the con­fines of a sin­gle page. But at the core of all those issues is a lack of re­spect for women and a cul­ture fail­ing to cel­e­brate them as unique in­di­vid­u­als.

So if there’s one thing I hope this is­sue ac­com­plishes, it’s that you—what­ever gen­der you iden­tify with— will take a mo­ment to ap­pre­ci­ate the women in these pages and at your lo­cal surf spot. This is­sue is meant to be—plain and sim­ple—an ode to the many women who make up the world’s var­ied line­ups and a cel­e­bra­tion of the fact that the con­cept of good surf­ing knows no gen­der.

Malia Manuel. Photo by MAG­DALENA KER­NAN

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