Surfs Up: What A Women’s-Only Surf Club Taught Me About Friendship

blue crush

by Melissa Henry |

It’s no surprise that in recent times surfing is popping up on everyone’s radar: even Kate Bosworth’s cult noughties film Blue Crush is getting the television adaptation treatment. No longer the preserve of floppy-haired surfer dudes and perma-tanned beach babes, more and more people are turning to surfing to keep fit – including increasing numbers of women – and there’s even a ‘women’s only’ surf club in the UK.

Intigrigued, but land-locked? Don’t worry: you can still get to the ocean via the London Girls Surf Club. Set up by Kylie Griffiths, a keen surfer since her late twenties, it was created to form a network where ladies could get into the oceans together and make life-long surfing buddies.

‘Living in a city can be manic and stressful, always on the go and never stopping, so we wanted to give girls the chance to switch off,’ explained Griffiths. ‘The ocean can be incredibly tranquil and while surfing you are truly in the moment, as you have to put your entire focus on those few minutes of getting it right (or you will almost certainly fall off). We wanted to share this experience with city ladies and give them a chance to switch off for a weekend and be able to live in the moment even if just for a few days.’

As well as the obvious physical benefits of surfing - a great cardiovascular exercise, combining upper body muscles, leg muscles and core muscles – studies have also shown that female friendships are a contributing factor to our longer life spans. Add to that the positive affect on your mental health of getting out of the city and being in nature, as well as the mental challenge of focusing on not falling off the board (grubbing, for the uninitiated) and you’ve got the perfect pastime for stressed city women.

Melissa Henry

My Experience...

So here I am in Devon with the London Girls Surf School and eight other like-minded women. We’re all beginners - some have dabbled, some have never touched a surf board in their lives – and the majority of us are in our 30s.

Our teachers are passionate about surfing but do not for a second take themselves seriously. The only serious talk that takes place is on land, preparing you for the ocean and how to prevent yourself being knocked out by your board (yikes) and how to catch a wave. The feeling of when you do the latter and have a group of women cheering for you is nothing short of heartwarming.

As our weekend goes on, it’s clear that we’re all here to get fit, to feel the freedom of being in the ocean, to bond with one another and definitely not feel guilty for having one (or five) beers and a burger after a day out surfing. These women are here to have fun, escape the city and champion each other.

You don’t have to travel the ends of the earth to find a decent wave, with the beaches of the UK and neighbouring Ireland providing plenty of scenic beaches for you to get a taste of a surfer’s life. London Girl Surf School organise four trips a year to a UK-based destination and one trip abroad.

And if I haven’t convinced you to give women only surfing ago, maybe Jane Fonda’s wise word will, ‘You know, surfing makes me stronger, it makes me smarter, it makes me braver.' Okay, I lied... she wasn’t talking about surfing, only about female friendship, but I reckon these are the same ingredients to make you the ultimate female surfer.

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