Surfing clubs like Groove Girls are calling for women of all experience levels to get involved. PHOTOS SUPPLIED BY STEPHANIE TEIXEIRA
Rowena Forward joined the all-female surf group on the Gold Coast.
Stephanie Teixeira started the all-women surf group in 2019.
Groove Girls. Some 200,000 people took up surfing between 2019 and 2021 - the majority of which were women.
Stephanie Teixeira says more women are surfing on the Gold Coast.
30 January 23
As reported by The ABC: It was a passing insult while she was out surfing in 2019 that inspired Stephanie Teixeira to create the all-female surfing club Groove Girls.
While sitting on her board at Burleigh Heads, Ms Teixeira said a surfer approached her and asked if she was "window shopping".
"I was like, 'What do you mean?' And he's just like, 'You girls just sit there and don't even catch any waves'.
"'I've just paddled out from there — why do I have to prove myself to you?'
"It got to a point where I was like, OK, enough is enough."
The timing was spot on.
Thousands taking up the sport
According to data published last year by the Australian Sports Commission, almost 200,000 people took up surfing between 2019 and 2021 — the majority of which were women.
Fifteen of them attended the Groove Girls' first meet-up.
"Anyone can come along and we just paddle out together, support each other in the waves," Ms Teixeira said.
"It's hard being a female in the surf because we're the minority out there, and for once, when we paddle out as a group together, we're the majority."
Many women who joined the group with no surfing experience are now catching six-foot waves.
Rowena Forward, 24, had always aspired to learn but said that not having many surfer friends was holding her back.
"[You] start off going to Groove Girls and after that you get the confidence to go out by yourself, you know where to go," Ms Forward said.
"We all really are there for each other and we want to see each other succeed.
"We want to see each other get waves and improve, so it's just a perfect place to grow your confidence.
"It's really something different compared to when you go to a bar where there's just a wide range of people, which is fine, but when you do go to something like this it's crazy how similar everyone is."
More women hitting the waves
In the past few years, Ms Teixeira said there had been more women surfing on the Gold Coast as well as a change in the attitudes towards them.
"In saying that, that's only really coming from an age group from 20 to 40 years old," she said.
"The age bracket around 40 to maybe 80, they're the ones that are still stuck in their ways. They don't appreciate women in the surf, they think they have right of way.
"There has been a shift but it's not enough."
Recently, Groove Girls expanded from surfing to "connection nights" with yoga and meditation, offering newcomers a "stepping stone" into the group.
"It can be super intimidating coming to a new group, especially if you don't know anyone," Ms Teixeira said.
"It's getting rid of the aspect of not being able to surf and at least you can come to yoga.
"It's really just another safe space [where] people can come together, make some new friends, form connections."
50-50 with growing confidence
Competitive surfer Ellie J Brooks, 26, has also noticed the increased number of women in the surf in the 15 years since she started.
"I would have to say it's easily 50-50 out there these days, which is pretty cool because the guys had it to themselves for so long," she said.
"And it's just nice seeing girls with the confidence to just get out there and have a go."
Ms Brooks started a surf coaching business to help young girls build confidence through surfing.
"Through school I didn't have the best time and I noticed that a lot of girls go through bullying," she said.
"I just wanted to encourage girls to believe in themselves and just get out in the water and have something that they can focus on and just encourage them that way.
"It does take time, especially if you start late. It's not the easiest sport, you're dealing with so many different elements like the ocean, the wind, so just keep at it."
- AUTHOR: NELLI SAARINEN
- SOURCE: ABC GOLD COAST
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