Surf dames creating space for wahine surfers

Jacqui from the Local Rag caught up with Nina to learn about how Raglan Surf School has reintroduced Surf Dames as an opportunity for Raglan women to come together on the ocean. 

Tell us about your intention for the Surf Dames initiative ?

Everything started by the desire of bringing more women into the surf, not just for one session but for life !! haha

I come from a sports family of both men and women, and everything we were involved with was 100%, not just one shot and go !! This is why I wanted to create something long term for women around here, and not just one surf lesson and nothing behind. Continuity is the key! 

Maybe I can tell you why just wome ; not that I’m against gender diverse groups at all, I usually really like working with groups of men and women together, but this time was a test, really! I wanted to try and see how women react to being surrounded with women and no men, and it’s absolutely fantastic; less competitiveness, more help, less ego, more sharing, less tensions, more perseverance! 

How has it developed?

I started a surf dames program: 5 classes, one a week for 5 weeks, with a team of 6 women around Raglan that I knew. 

After this first program more women asked about it, and I ended up running 5 surf dames programmes this summer, which is absolutely amazing !! 

And so the ” Tuesday Sessions” started! After the 5 classes, the girls wanted more and we thought that it would be amazing to make up a kind of “club”, with one session a week no matter what ! 

Is it just about surfing?

We finally got a little community up and running with the girls texting each other on our facebook group, and helping each other in and out of the surf ! We go out for beers, share our weeks-holidays-troubles and happiness ! 

What benefits have you noticed and what feedback have you had from the women?

I think what’s the most amazing is how they realise how strong they are, and capable of doing things they would never have done before. The ocean is such a wonderful  environment for that: you show up shy, unsure and you come out strong and patient with yourself; you give yourself more credit.

The girls found a place to share, a place to laugh, a place without judgement.

Do women have to have some level of competence in the surf ?

Most women started brand new, he-he, some others had done it before but left it for a while as too busy, or because they’ve got kids to look after, or simply because of life. 

Now they are all independent out there, catching their own waves, encouraging other women, enjoying the art of surfing as much as I do and that makes me feel so so happy ! 

Where to from here with it? 

I’m hoping, by next year, to get even more women in the loop, and maybe start a real little club, with training in and out of the water, maybe get a Pilates studio involved in the project and work around a training plan, to improve and be able to travel around New Zealand with the crew and inspire more women! 

But I will still be running the initial 5 classes program for the newbies who want to join the waves of love!!! 

How has RSS coped through Covid times? How have you had to adapt ?

I guess Covid hit local businesses pretty hard this summer, even worse than the summer before. So we have been working with people closer to home, and have also been teaching people for a longer period of time. 

This content is part of the surf series and was made possible by the sponsorship of Raglan Surf Co.