This article first ran in the 1964 November issue of SURFER, featuring on the cover a Bev Morgan watershot of San Clemente’s Linda Merrill. “It took us almost five years to get around to it,” the cover caption read, “but we finally gave in. Featuring Linda on the cover marks a first in SURFER history. In what was predominantly a man’s sport…surfing has slowly given way to the infiltration of the ‘surfing girls.’ ‘Why Girls?’ you might ask? ‘What are they doing in a man’s sport?’ Turn to page 36 for ‘Why Girls?’ The feature we excerpt the feature below with no byline. Its perspective, however, speaks for itself. As does the damage that surely ensued-decades worth-to follow SURFER’s first “official’ statement on women’s surfing. For SURFER’s current perspective on “Why Girls?” please turn to page 106. -Sam George
The 1964 story in question ran thus:
“Why does everyone make such a big thing of girl surfers?” “…my friend and I were pounced on by a dozen girls in a frenzy of vandalism…” “In my opinion the girls who run around looking like shaggy dogs dressed in gunnysacks aren’t true to the sport…” “I myself enjoy girl surfers…” “Why not soften up, you guys?”
Girls participating in the sport of surfing have aroused controversy to say the least. Many of the male surfers object strongly to “their” world being invaded by the girls. They feel that the closest girls should get to surfing is the beach. Most girls, of course, feel that this is unfair. Some even go so far as to think that the boys should help them carry their boards down to the surf and retrieve lost boards when they get wiped out!
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Although the male surfers’ opinions on girls also vary widely, the general feeling on the subject is this: Surfing is an individual sport and the girls who want to surf should learn the traditions and courtesies along with the function of the sport. Just because she is a girl, she should not expect extra rights and privileges on the wave. There’s nothing worse than an inexperienced girl ruining a good ride by dropping in on the shoulder in front of a surfer coming out of a hot section. On the other hand, the surfer who got dropped in on should calm his temper long enough to explain to the girl (in a nice manner) proper wave conduct. One young surfer summed up everything by saying, “Girls are OK as long as they don’t get in the way and if they don’t get any better.”
The top girls in surfing today are not as good as the top men. Their level of ability, however, is coming up and we may see the day when girls might be a serious threat in an open competition. Still, with less than ten percent of surfers being girls, there is not much chance of them producing an overall champion from their ranks. Then, too, surfing can be a strenuous sport and the girls are just not equipped for power surfing. This is very much in evidence in big waves. Few girls even attempt to ride big surf and the few that do seldom venture out on the larger days. It requires more strength than they can muster.
Fifty years ago women were fixtures in the home. They fought for equal rights and won with the 19th amendment to our constitution. They have an equal right to ride waves along with all surfers. But remember girls-you also have equal rights to carry your own boards, swim in after a wipeout, and no special privileges on the waves!
For the entire scoop go to your favorite surf shop and pick up Surfer magazine volume 43#8, or subscribe by clicking here.