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Tofino surfing: Mermaid Tales

by Jenny Stewart, Tofino


This spring CBC radio called to discuss surfing in Tofino and put me on the spot with just one question: "Why weren't there any junior girls trying out for the Canadian National Surf Team?" They'd heard about the popularity of surfing in Tofino and wanted to know where the girls were hiding out.

Everybody knows there are lots of girls who surf in Tofino. Our town is actually famous for the high ratio of women to men in the water.

So why, then, were there no junior girls surfing in Tofino?
It was last May when I decided to start a surf club just for girls that would run for the entire summer. Meeting at 6pm every Monday throughout the summer would, I thought, give us the chance to surf often enough to improve our skills. I wanted to give the local girls a little encouragement to get out there and catch waves.

I bet you had no idea there is a gaggle of girls ages 8-11 who were born right here in Tofino, who love to surf. These girls are true water babies, they practically have scales and their hair closely resembles that of a mermaid Last Monday, I met up with Ocea Honnor Goddard, Infinity Makai Auty, Emma Saa-cin Nicolay, Mica Mary June Bot, and Patrice Louise Hansen, who all gathered at South Chesterman Beach at 6pm to go surfing. We sat in the warm sand wearing our wetuits, surrounded by our pile of surfboards, and watched the waves while we discussed their beginnings in the sport of surfing.

These girls are stoked to surf. Most of them started surfing when they were just 3 or 4 years old and most of them have a dad who surfs. They've even named the surf club "Swell Times Surf Club for Girls".

Meet Ocea Honnor Goddard--she's just turned 9 years old on August 5th. Guess what she got for her birthday?? Her first very own surfboard. At 6pm on Monday evenings you'll find her already in her wetsuit, waiting on the beach for the rest of the gang to show up so she can go surfing. When asked if she has any desire to travel to tropical places for surf, she replies "I like cold". She wants to stay in Tofino and surf because she says" It's not as dangerous as Hawaii or Mexico, because they have sharks".

Mica is 9 years old and surfs with her mom mostly, but her whole family surfs. Her older sister and brother surf almost every day. Mica caught a huge wave way back when she was 6 years old. "It was freaky" she said. She still has her first wetsuit! This surfer girl lives right on the beach and at her birthday party back in June most of the girls at surf club say they caught their best wave ever.

Infinity says surfing is "hard", but her dad is right there to help her progress. Her fearlessness certainly shows because she keeps asking to paddle to the "outside" of the break and wants to catch big waves. She's an 8 year old who really pulls it off. Maybe she'll be surfing Pipeline or Mavericks in a few years right long side the famous Jon Jon Florence (who's only 12)

Patrice is also 9 years old, born on Groundhog Day in Tofino. She paddled out on her dad's longboard at surf club because it's super sturdy and a great bright yellow. Her dad is 53, and still surfing. Patrice says she will be surfing till she's old for sure!
Emma's middle name is Nuu-cha-nulth and means hummingbird.' At the last surf club she caught a huge wave and "it moved so fast I was surprised!" Sounds like the wings of a hummingbird to me... In a few years you might find Emma traveling to Hawaii in search of waves.

It was after 8pm and the sun was almost gone behind Lennard Ligh when I finally got out of the water. I called to the girls, 'Time to go in!" and was surprised to hear, "No, not yet, do we have to?" Not a single one of them wanted to stop surfing, not even for dinner.

This is the next generation of surfers in Tofino. These girls surf for fun, they feel the stoke, and they are in awe of the power of the ocean. All this and they are not even teenagers!

Look for these girls in the water in 50 years because every one of them said they would still be surfing even at 59!

Jenny Stewart was born in Tofino and has been surfing for 20 years. She runs Surf Sister Surf School in Tofino and can be reached at 1-877-724-surf or info@surfsister.com

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