Winner of the WQS Women’s Open, Natsumi Taoka, at ALSO 2018. Pic: Luke Sorenson
Women’s Ambassador for Also 2019, Wendy Stevenson.
28 March 19
More women than ever are expected to take part in this year’s Australian Longboard Surfing Open (ALSO) at Kingscliff from May 31 to June 2.
Contest Director Sean McKeown said well-known Cabarita Boardriders member and official Wendy Stevenson had come on-board as Women’s Ambassador to help encourage more women to enter.
“There are so many women out in the surf these days but many think entering a competition like ours is too daunting,” McKeown explained. “Wendy is such a great role-model for local surfers we are very pleased to have her on board.”
He said entries are already open and starting to roll in for the popular event and it would be great to see a big field of local surfers of both sexes hitting the waves for the 2019 event.
Wendy Stevenson has been surfing since she was a junior but gave it up when she had kids however she came back to the sport seven years ago and hasn’t looked back.
She said she was excited to be involved in the 2019 event and was looking forward to encouraging more women of all ages to take to the waves for the contest.
“I am really honoured and feel privileged to be asked to be the Women’s Ambassador,” the talented surfer and mother of two said. “This is actually the first time I’ve entered it – I’ve watched it for a few years and never felt worthy enough to enter so when Sean asked me to be involved I was thrilled.”
She said it was all too common for women surfers to feel too daunted to go from free surfing to competing but she hoped she could encourage more to take that step and enjoy the fun of events like the ALSO
“There are so many women out there who surf so nicely and are so talented but if you put them in a competition scenario they say “oh no it’s not me I can’t do it”. And it is daunting because it’s totally different to free surfing -being out there for an hour. This is going out and seeing how many waves you can catch in 20 minutes and being selective of the waves you catch.
“But the ALSO is a great place to start. It’s a big competition but it has such a great friendly family atmosphere.”
Wendy said since becoming involved in competitions she had made a lot of friends who had been very encouraging and kept her coming back. She said she was now looking forward to passing on her knowledge to a new generation of women surfers.
She said her 10 years away from surfing gave her a renewed love of the sport. “I missed surfing, I use to go to the beach with the kids every day but I just missed being in the water surfing,” she said.
“When I grew up we had the likes of Sally Paxton, Trudy Todd, Colleen Dean – only a handful of women were ever in the water. Now there are so many women it’s so different there’s never a day that there’s not another female in the water.”
Wendy said she hopes this new role will help her encourage more women to be involved in clubs and competitions.
“The stereotype is that women are supposed to sit on their chairs with their book and rub their sunscreen on – but no there are more women going into the water now and their husbands are the ones watching their wives,” she laughed.
Entries are open for both men and women for the 2019 contest now in its eight-year under the Australian Longboard Surfing Open (ALSO) banner though Contest Director Sean McKeown has been running a marquee longboard event in Kingscliff for the past eleven years.
McKeown said excitement was building for this year’s ALSO and he thinks, after experimenting with earlier times in the year, that the event has finally found the perfect time of year.
“We’re holding it from May 30 to June 2, this time, which is much later than in previous years,” he explained. “February through March always sees us clash with other events including the QuikSilver Pro. But the real deciding factor was the swell.”
ALSO has always been much more than just surfing, it’s a family event, a competition that attracts all ages and captures the friendly family feel of yesteryear. This year will be no exception with a full program of water events as well as plenty of activities planned for the beach.
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The Australian Longboard Surfing Open is located in the unspoilt surfing location of Kingscliff village, on the doorstep of the Asia Pacific, and only 10 minutes from Gold Coast Airport. ALSO honours the history of Australian longboard surfing with music, indigenous surfing, old board display, surf vehicle display, art and lifestyle stalls.
For more information for what’s on, how to enter or sponsorship enquires contact Sean McKeown, Australian Longboard Surfing Open on 0414 569 208 or Tania Spiers-Phillips, Media Manager, 0497 106274.
- REPORT BY TANIA PHILLIPS