Women's Surfing

During one of the early Coke contests at Narrabeen, I asked Shane Stedman to announce my intention to hold a meeting at Harbord to form a branch of the Australian Womens’ Surfriders Association, which I had founded in 1974.

At that stage I had been canvassing the beaches in Sydney, telling any female boardrider I saw to drop in on the meeting, and the announcement at the Coke was the final fling at getting the message out to women surfers.

The meeting to be held at a flat overlooking Harbord beach, quite an old building that had been converted at some stage or other to a number of flats, and we were in the very front one, a great spot for the meeting.

Pamela Burridge arrived with her mother, a few other youngsters and this older couple who sat at the window engrossed in conversation. A little intrigued by this elderly couple, I asked them why they had come. They said just to listen. 

Anyway, the meeting went on and was successful in inaugurating the NSW Womens Surfriders’ Association. After the meeting, the elderly woman introduced herself as Isobel and wanted asked why I had chosen this spot. I explained that through a network of friends someone had heard of my work and offered the verandah of their home for the meeting. 

Isobel could not believe it was that simple. Didn’t I know, she asked, what this place was? It was once a cafe which provided wonderful refreshments and the best surfing view in Australia, with the smell of the sea and surf. 

Fascinated, I sat and listened as Isobel began to relate a wonderful tale of a young woman in love - with the sea, and a man who visited - some time around 1917, I think she said. It seemed he was a native Hawaiian and he surfed on a long wooden plank and she told me how she joined him out there and they rode tandem. She went on to say how she loved the feeling of riding this board, and how he came with her afterwards to this very spot to have drinks and chat and share their love of the sea.

Why, she asked again, have you come and revisited this place with such a wonderful idea for women who surf? I really had no answer. It was merely a coincidence which set in place the platform for her dream and mine to materialise. We discovered, as we spoke, that we both shared the same vision for women surfers. Hers, however, was born before the 1920’s and mine did not evolve until 1973. What a wonderful, magical evening that was for both of us.