Broulee female surfers take to the waves

Seeing a group of female surfers in the water in Broulee is normal, but elsewhere you may not have the same experience. 

Eva Davis-Boermans, 22, of Tomakin, has made a short film about how the culture of women surfing has changed  – and how Broulee is leading the charge out the back. 

I’ve had the privilege of growing up in Broulee – I know they are not right and I do have a place in the water." - Eva Davis-Boermans

Something in the Water features older female surfers who talk about how times have changed. 

Women who once used to sit on the shore, watching the male surfers, now ride the waves themselves. 

Ms Davis-Boermans said she made the film for a university assignment. 

“I never realised how cool it was to be a female surfer here until I started travelling. I thought ‘no-one, except if you’ve been here, knows about it’,” she said. 

“When you paddle out in the water here, you are just another surfer and there is usually at least another five or 10 women out there. Half the people out are normally women and it is super normal; I don’t even think twice about it. 

Other places, I am really aware when another girl paddles out, because we are the only two in the water.

“But when I go to other places, I am really aware when another girl paddles out, because we are usually the only two females in the water. That just kept happening and I asked myself ‘why is it so different in Broulee?’.”

The conclusions she came to was that Broulee Women’s Boardriders existed. 

“Most towns have a boardriders club that has a women’s section and there are normally three or four really competitive girls in that, so it isn't as inclusive as ours. Ours is just about fun, being supportive and creating a support network, rather than creating a competition. 

They started the club was because they experienced a really difficult surf culture for women in the 70s

“It has been going since the 70s and is part of Broulee Boardriders incorporated. The reason they started the club was because they experienced a really difficult surf culture for women in the 70s and they wanted to make sure girls coming through in my generation, didn’t have to deal with the same thing.

“It has worked the way they wanted it to, because that is what has happened. 

“There’s no intimidation in the surf.”

Although it hasn’t always been easy for women to be accepted in the water, Ms Davis-Boermans said those times were changing. 

“The reason behind the film is to recognise that women have a really long history of surf culture, but it is often not recognised how much of a hard time we had back then,” she said. 

“The other thing is that women are intimidated to go surfing, but they need to get out there and do it. It doesn’t matter how good you are, it is about having fun.”

Ms Davis-Boermans started surfing when she was five. 

“You still get some comments from males all the time, you just get it way less in Broulee,” she said. 

“Generally it is really subtle. A good example is that I have been teaching my boyfriend how to surf over the past year and when we go out at this one particular place, there are always guys there and they always say ‘taking your girl for a surf? Make sure she gets a wave’, even though it is the other way around. It is presumed that he can surf and I can’t. 

“No-one has ever been like ‘get out of the water’, it is just the subtle implication that you are inferior. 

“I’ve surfed for so long and have had the privilege of growing up in Broulee – I know they are not right and I do have a place in the water.”

JoJo Melville, 44, has been surfing since she was 18. 

“The stereotype around surfing has changed a lot. We started off just going to the beach and sun baking while the boys surfed. 

“Then a friend of mine and I decided to go and buy some old second-hand surf boards from a surf shop in Byron Bay and we taught ourselves.”

“It was a bit of a novelty having us in the surf ... there was certainly a lot of dropping-in going on, but they never said anything.” 

Ms Melville said a lot more girls were in the water now and the Broulee Boardriders was an encouraging influence. 

“A lot of the time you are not the only girl out there. Especially surfing in Broulee, you are out there with your friends,” she said. 

“Boardriders is an awesome establishment, it has really given a lot of people the opportunity to surf who wouldn't have tried it if there wasn't the supportive network of women. 

“I think more young women and girls have become involved in surfing in Broulee because of the boardriders.”

Ms Davis-Boermans encouraged all girls to give surfing a go. 

“The best thing I can do is be in the water, because that challenges the assumptions some males might have,” she said. 

“That is why I would encourage all females to surf whenever they can and not be intimidated.”

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