Story and photos Eve Jeffery
Surfer, teacher and mum Serena Adams says attitudes have changes since she first hit the waves in South Australia when she was three. ‘Where I grew up their were only about 10 female surfers,’ says Serena. ‘Three of those were my sisters and one was my mum.’
The attitude from men toward women in the water now is totally different from 30 years ago. ‘These days they are much more encouraging,’ she said. ‘I remember when I was younger being told that my place wasn’t in the surf but in the kitchen, but not now. Now you’ve got amazing women on the pro circuit. It’s a job and they work really hard. They are surfing massive waves and they are doing these outrageous manoeuvres and they have really put women surfing up there with the guys.
‘In the water it is very rare these days that I come across any negativity towards females. I think they love it, especially when the chicks are in their bikinis,’ she laughs.
Serena says she has been a part of the Girls Go Surfing Day for 23 years and she always really enjoys the day. She estimates that she has taught women into the thousands in her GGSD career. ‘We’ve been doing it for 17 years in Byron,’ she said. ‘I originally started doing it in South Australia so that’s been 23 years of women surfing.’
Serena says that part of the day has been to encourage mums and daughters to come along and have a surf together. She suspects that together they give each other the courage to have a go. ‘I think it’s always nice to do something with your daughter, and, as the girls are getting a little bit older, you sometimes wonder how you are going to connect. With a shared love of the ocean that’s how they can connect and we saw a lot of that today. The mums were catching a few waves then the daughters catch a few. Then they are surfing next to each other.’
Serena says her own daughter Mahia first felt the wax under her belly at three months of age. ‘She loves swimming; she loves to get out there in the waves and she has done the last couple of Girls Go Surfing Days; her confidence has built and her love of surfing has built. So now we have to remember not only to take my board down to the beach but to take hers!’
Serena says that attitudes have changed and that, unlike herself, Mahia will grow up with a lot of other girls who surf. ‘Here, you surf out at The Pass and there are women. I surfed Broken Head the other week and it was all girls and it was magic. Women out in the surf – they chat and the environment is really chilled – they can surf and talk it’s great.’
Serena says that events like the GGSD help encourage women in a non-intimidating environment. ‘Some of the mums come down who wanted to surf twenty years ago but they were too intimidated to go into the water, intimidated by other surfers in the water, but now that cycle is breaking.’