Pro Female Surfers Tell Us About Swimming With The Boys And When Mother Nature Is Your Boss

Erica Hosseini

Today the surfing film Chasing Mavericks opens. It is the true story of surfing phenom Jay Moriarty recounting the days leading up to the 15-year-old’s attempt to ride and survive the mythic Mavericks surf break with the help of local legend Frosty Hesson (Gerard Butler) who becomes less like a trainer and more like a brother.The film looks fun and exciting but it is missing one thing: female surfers.

Female  surfers haven’t been given credit for surfing until the mid-1990s but they have made a huge impact since then, both culturally and financially. It was not Gidget or those girls in Blue Crush that put female surfing on the map, but rather Lisa Andersen of Ormond Beach, Fla., when she won the first of four straight world titles in 1994. That same year, Roxy, Andersen’s sponsor, introduced the first women’s board shorts. Roxy, the largest women’s surf apparel maker, grew from $20 million in sales in 1996 to $650 million in 2006. That figure rivals worldwide sales of $750 million for its parent company, Quiksilver, the largest manufacturer of men’s surf apparel.

Between 2001 and 2005 the proportion of women participating in surfing jumped from 19% to 33%, according to Board-Trac, a leading board-sports market research company. “They’ve been a savior to the industry,” said Chris Mauro, the editor of Surfer Magazine. “If not for the women’s boom, the industry would be half the size.”

But despite this growth, female surfers at the top level still experience some animosity from their male counterparts. In a Guardian article called “Male-Infested Waters” professional female surfers opened up about their experiences with sexism. Tracy Boxall, seven times British champion and BSA world tour coach, said “The men have a worry about getting beaten by a girl, but if they’re proper males they wouldn’t worry about it.” Layne Beachley, six time women’s world champion surfer, said, “”There’s a huge discrepancy between the men’s and women’s prize money. The way the industry has been structured, it’s always been about the men.”

We decided to talk to some professional female surfers, Erica Hosseini and surf-star-turned-LPGA-pro Ryann O’ Toole, about this sport, their take on this new film and having Mother Nature as your boss.

Erica Hosseini is a professional surfer and 2008 Volcom VQS Champion. A native of Orange County, CA, she travels the world surfing. She’s a homegrown star who made it to the elite level of her profession, already establishing herself as a world-class surfer. Not to mention she is one of the most sought after action sports athletes in the modeling world, working with brands like Oakley and Jose Cuervo.

And, as if she could possibly take on any more projects, she is also a stunt double for the TV show 90210.

Q: What are some surfer stereotypes in movies you hate and want to break?

A: I hate the lingo that they think ALL surfers use. Yes, some surfers talk like that. But most of them don’t and it makes us look extremely silly. If you ask someone to mimic a surfer they immediately say something like “bra, that was gnarly” or “bra, that was siiiick.” It’s pretty bad.

Q: Have you ever gone chasing mavericks?

A: No… and I don’t plan to. Haha… I am not a fan of gigantic surf. And, if you’re surfing mavericks, that’s what you’re getting. Scary stuff!

Q: Gerard Butler plays the surfing mentor in Chasing Mavericks. Who was the biggest surfing influence in your life?

A: Growing up my brother would have been my biggest influence. I was a huge tomboy and played every sport imaginable. I wanted to be just like him and better. So if he did something, I was right there with him. He pushed me to get good quick, he brought out that competitive side in me and that definitely built the road for where I am today.

Q: How much of surfing would you say is mental, and how much is physical?

A: I think it depends on what level you’re trying to surf at. If you’re just out to have a good time then most of it is physical. But if you are on a competitive level, then it’s almost equal. There are so many tactics, technical strategies and components that surfing has when you’re thrown in a heat that makes it very mental. But like anything, practice makes perfect. So the better you are physically the better you will be and the mental side you can learn.

Q: You’ve surfed around the world. Which beaches have the best waves?

A: I love Bali, Indonesia. The waves are awesome, the water is warm and the waves are so playful and fun.

As far as a spot that I would want to spend more time than just a two week surf trip, It would be Australia. The waves are great, and the water is still warm, and it’s a place I could live. The people are so friendly and hospitable and I love the overall vibe over there.

Q: Honest opinion, what did you think of Blue Crush and/or Blue Crush 2? Real or really cheesy?

A: I actually watched Blue Crush the other day it was on MTV. When it first came out women’s surfing was peaking and there was a lot of hype around the sport so I felt it was portrayed very different from the actual sport and lifestyle itself. The way we talk, train and go about a day as a professional surfer is far from what you see in the movie, but it’s a good Hollywood flick and it’s definitely entertaining. It’s a little cheesy but I’m a tough critic and don’t think I would be a fair judge since it’s my life; I will always be able to pick things apart and ridicule them.

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      Great article about female surfers. It’s interesting to get their take on surfing movies and how accurate (or inaccurate) they are.

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