The Coast News Group
Brazillian surf star Tatiana Weston-Webb signs autographs for fans at the Paul Mitchell Neon Supergirl Pro on July 30 at Oceanside Pier. Photo by Sandy Ordille
Columns Waterspot

Waterspot: They ripped!

There’s something about women on waves that has forever perked my interest.

As a gremmie who came of age in the early ‘60s, girls in the lineup were as rare as they were welcome.

Surfing in the regions I frequented: Huntington, Newport, Hermosa and Doheny was a pastime dominated mostly by Caucasian teenaged boys. I figured it had always been that way and it always would be. So, I was pleasantly surprised to read that women surfers in ancient Hawaii were as common as men, and often more talented.

Had I forgotten about Gidget, the “girl midget” who sent my generation to the beach in search of waves, surfboards and pretty blondes? She was the first to introduce me to this sickness that has forever infected me: surfing.

And, while I have had numerous close women friends who surfed (some of them amazingly well) it wasn’t until last Sunday, July 30, that I realized how far they had come competitively.

It all started with a call from my longtime friend Sandy Ordille, who herself was a top pro in the ‘80s.

“Are you going to the Supergirl Pro?” she asked. I reluctantly agreed to be there for the final day. My reluctance came from anticipating that I was about to witness an event similar to most others — I assumed it would be too long, too boring and too repetitive to sit through for hours. I love being wrong about such things.

By the time we arrived on day three of the three-day event, the trials were over and the quarterfinals had begun. Thanks to the remains of Hurricane Hillary (sounds like a political bumper sticker) the waves were in the three- to five-foot range and mostly closed-out, with a few corners available to those keen enough to hunt them down.

Turns out that each of those in the lineup was not only capable of riding those shifty, tricky and hard to read mini slabs, but revealed ample talent to move vertically.
While I knew women’s surfing had evolved greatly since I last viewed the act, I had no idea how radical the best in the world now were.

Considering that women represent a fraction of surfing’s overall talent pool, considering that women have fewer competitive opportunities, considering nothing, the surfing was on edge, on point and silky smooth.

Tatiana Weston-Webb, Sage Erikson, Coco Ho, Courtney Conlogue had all won this event before. The only other finalist to have never won it, Caroline Marks, threatened the reigning champs, but fell a few points short in the semi finals. They came, they ripped, they conquered.

Thanks Sandy. I’m a believer!