Forty years of the Australian Women’s Surfing Association

On Saturday night as rain lashed the east coast of Australia, a bunch of women met to celebrate women’s surfing.

I walked into the pub a little late and saw small groups of women everywhere. As I made my way to the bar, I heard snippets of their conversations.

“Have you seen the BOM? Going to be huge tomorrow”

“Did you surf this morning?”

“…oh, i remember that wave! You got smashed!”

I ordered a beer, and joined in. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of this!?

We were all at the Coolum Beach hotel to celebrate forty years of the Australian Women’s Surfing Association (AWSA). For the first time the first and second generations of competitive women’s surfing – international, Australian and state champions from the 1960s through to the 1990s – had come together and, though the night was young the memories (and the beers) were already flowing.

Everywhere I looked, there was a piece of living history. Goodtime stalwart and AWSA founder, Gail Austin; professional fisherwoman, big wave surfer in Hawaii and Queensland’s “Shark Girl”, Kim McKenzie; Jenny Gill, Serena Brooke, past world champs Pam Burridge and Pauline Menczer…  The vibe was high and the shared love of surfing was palpable.

“Women’s surfing has always been about this, about women supporting each other.” Pauline addressing the crowd.

Pauline spoke about how women’s surfing has always been about women supporting each other and I think that’s essential. Being in a room with women who, for more than half a century have been promoting and supporting women’s place in surfing only served to highlight to me how important it is that we continue to do this. That we embrace the diversity and inclusivity that is women’s surfing. Women are both the past and the future of surfing. I think that’s worth celebrating.