This is the definitive Female Surfing Legends list. An ode to Women’s Surfing. This list doesn’t include current female Surfing Pros. But if you’d like to see the current female surfing rankings just click here.
As said by TheGuardian.com : “Women have pushed for years to be included in big-wave surfing competitions, while organisers of some contests argued that conditions at famous breaks such as Mavericks in California were too dangerous for women.”
With this article we might help some organisers understand that women have always been ready for big-wave surfing competitions, or at least that they’ve always had the right to choose their destiny. Let’s be honest, don’t men get kicked- off or wiped-out by waves as well ? It’s just a matter of time to realise that it’s all about training, balance and strength, especially in the legs.
But the fact remains… If women have been asking to participate for so many years, why wouldn’t we say Yes ? This is why I’d like to write a bit about famous and legendary Female Surfers of all Times ! I’m sure some of them would’ve loved to ride Mavericks or Pipeline after some years of training. Let’s get on with it. Sources of Pictures are written and linked to on the paragraphs or pictures themselves. Thank you sources for providing them:
Isabel Letham: Taught by Duke Kahanamoku (The Big Kahuna) as he visited Australia, she claimed to be the first Female Australian surfer in the world. But it is not quite clear and it is open for debate. Nevertheless both Letham and Isma Amor (next female surfer in the list) were Australian Surfing Pioneers and definitely two of the first women to surf. Photo of her by womenaustralia.info. Need more on Australian Female Surfers ?
Isma Amor: Isma Amor was born in 1898. As said above, there is a dispute on who was the First Australian Female Surfer. Isma Amor and Isabel Letham are both eligible of such privilege. It seems that Amor had been surfing in Australia even before Duke Kahanamoku’s visit. They both deserve a mention regardless.
Mary Ann Hawkins: Born in 1919. I’m happy to see that during the Second World War (1939-45) there were people who kept on living and enjoying. This is the case of Mary Ann Hawkins, winner of the Pacific Coast Women’s Surfboard Championships in 1938, 1939, and 1940. The United States of America officially entered the war after Pearl Harbour’s attack on Dec. 7, 1941. But she kept on surfing… Photo by Encyclopedia of Surfing.
Robin Grigg: Born in 1934, sister of Big wave rider Rick Grigg. First to ride ‘Girl Boards’: shorter, thinner and lighter boards than ever, forerunners of the Malibu Chip Boards. She won the 1960 Makaha International tandem event with Mud Werner and if you want to see her just get to see the John Severson’s 1963 surf movie, Angry Sea.
Vicki Flaxman: Famous surfboard designer Joe Quigg said: “In a couple of months, she learned to surf better than most men.” That was in the 1950’s. She started lending her newly designed surfboard to Malibu male riders who wanted to try something new.
Aggi Bane: She was Joe Quigg’s wife and another great female rider of the 1950’s of which we have much less information.
Darilyn Zanuck Zinc: Very little information can be found of her but she was part of the group of female riders of the late 1940’s and 1950’s. These girls from California knew each other, they were friends and they all surfed lighter and shorter surfboards that are more like the ones we use in 2017.
Kathy Kohner ‘Gidget’: Born in 1941, Los Angeles, this is a different female rider. She must be recognized as one of the most influential human beings regarding all time surfing. Los Angeles magazine said that “along with the Beach Boys, Gidget gave surfing its most memorable turn in the great American youth culture parade.”
Marge Calhoun: Born in 1926. She was the First woman to ride Pipeline ! Won the Makaha International in 1958. Matriarch of the surfing Calhoun family. A surfing Legend.
Margo Oberg: First Proffessional Female Surfer in the World. Born in 1953. She owns a Surfing School: The Margo Oberg Surf School, on the island of Kauai since 1977.
Wendy Botha: Born (1965), grew up in East London (South Africa) where she started surfing at the age of 13. She won plenty of Surfing titles and later went to live and keep on surfing in Australia. Some say she became a bit arrogant at the end of her career as she was asked who her toughest challengers might be that year and she repliead that “no one even comes to mind.” Nevertheless, she might have had a bad day. She was a female surfing legend and she was good as hell !
Layne Beachley: The only woman to win 7 World Surfing Championships. Born in 1972, she is one of the four vice-presidents of the International Surfing Association (ISA).
Sara Gerhardt: The first female surfer to ride Mavericks with a surfing board ! Born in 1974, Washington. Sara Livermore (later married to surfer Mike Gerhardt) dated big-wave veteran Ken Bradshaw who also was her boardmaker and coach. In 1994, Sarah Lucas (Bodyboard) broke the Mavericks gender barrier as she was the first woman to surf Mavericks but with a Bodyboard, and five years later Sarah Gerhardt became the first woman to ride the giant Mavericks.
Sarah Lucas: Forgive me for saying that Sarah Lucas, a female bodyboarder with GUTS, is for me the most daring and adventorous female surfer ever, as she had the guts to surf Mavericks with a Bodyboard becoming the first woman to ‘surf’ Mavericks, even though it was with a bodyboard.
Keala Kennely: Of course Keala Kennely has something to say about the latter. ¿Female surfer with guts? “Guts is my surname” she would say. Keala Kennely was described by Rolling Stone magazine as the “Hawaii’s big-wave amazon.” Born in 1978. She was able to launch airs where others were just kicked-out. Pipeline and Teahupoo were her playgrounds. She dominated those tubes. But she isn’t the only female big-wave rider.
Is there any other Female Surfer that you would like to include as a Legend ? Write a comment and we’ll get her in ! And if you want to become a Surfing Legend yourself, why not start with some surfing lessons in our Surf School Tenerife ? Come and visit us in the Canary Islands, Spain.