Monday, December 22, 2014

Looking at the east coast from the west

So tomorrow I fly west to my east coast, subtropical roots, where I'll be spending christmas and new year and a little more too. I've been away from my NZ home more often that I've been here these past two months, so it's weird to be leaving again, and it also feels a little... weird. As always when I move somewhere new, the word 'home' starts to shift and find new applications, and today I confused a friend when I used 'home' to describe first Byron Bay and then Raglan, almost in the same sentence. I'm not even sure I mean the same thing when I use it for each place - Byron is my heart and bones, but Raglan is where I live and is being very kind to me. I feel a bit bad skipping out on it now just as the holidays arrive. 

Home I go. Home I leave.

But these last few days, Raglan has really turned it on, as if to show me what I'm about to miss here too. Today was stunning with blue skies, sunshine and a cool breeze. And tonight, to top it off, it put on one of it's never-get-less-breath-taking sunsets.

See you in 2015, Aotearoa.


Thursday, December 18, 2014

This is the best clip of women's surfing I've ever seen

Check out this beautiful clip by Morgan Maassen of Stephanie Gilmore surfing in France. It's gorgeous.

Stephanie from Morgan Maassen on Vimeo.

Watching this, my first thought was, 'What the hell was Roxy thinking in that stupid sexualised clip of Stephanie they made to promote the 2013 Roxy Pro in Biarritz?' I know the controversy is long past now, but when I see footage like this of the stylish, strong, smooth, female approach Steph Gilmore takes to waves, it really blows me away that Roxy didn't centralise it.

Anyway, I headed this post by saying this is the best clip of women's surfing I've ever seen, so I guess I better qualify why.

1. It focuses on Stephanie's surfing, which Morgan Maassen has done in his past clips of her as well. But this one is different because...

2. It addresses that thing people say about women's surfing being sexy and beautiful and athletic. You know, the 'women can be strong AND beautiful' thing. Sure, whatever. Usually they (Marketers and media) say this to justify copious footage and photos of women in bikinis (e.g. the Roxy clip), and usually it makes me roll my eyes. Because, who cares if they're sexy? But this clip shows that beauty and, more importantly, good surfing shines through - even with a full wetsuit.

3. It shows Steph both in comp and free surfing modes, which is pretty cool and an interesting intersection that is not - as far as I've seen - so common in clips about women who are on the tour. And it does this without including 'lifestyle' aspects (see #1).

4. It's totally beautiful. Like totally. Those sunset waves at the end are stunning.

(If you can think of more reasons, please add them below.)

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Don't drop in and call it sharing

Today was my third surf back after over two months out of the water. Say what? A combination of weather and travel has kept me out of the surf, and I've been going nuts. But the last few days have offered up waves and no wind, so I've been making the most of it all.

Today I paddled out to some lovely, glassy beachies. I'll usually take a point break every time, but some of my favourite surfs in NZ have been at this beach, so I feel a fair bit of affection for it. In my mind it's always raining and green, which has much to do with the kinds of winds and weather conditions that shape the conditions. So I made my way down to the black sand and along the shore to some lefts that seemed pretty consistent.

There were only a few people out at first and it was lovely. The waves were far from amazing, but they were fun and they were there. After a while, more people arrived and the competition stepped up. Everyone was playing the inside game where the usual rules of the lineup get put aside in favour of hassling and positioning. There were plenty of waves, but you get one or two crew doing this, and it's game on. It wasn't heavy, but it was happening. Suddenly, I found it much harder to get waves, which I tend to attribute to being the only chick, but it's hard to know, really. I decided to be patient and wait it all out - I'd had a bunch of waves and it was easy for me to get the smaller ones on my longboard anyway - but started to get a bit frustrated with the constant stream of dudes going straight to my inside and taking the next wave. Then one came my way, so I took it. There was a guy right next to me on my outside who went for it too, but I was pleased that he finally pulled off. But as I got up, there was another guy on my inside, who I knew had just that moment paddled out, so I decided to disregard him. But he called out to me,

'Stay on!'

'Oh, I am.'

'Keep going!'

'Don't tell me what to do!'

And then he sped up right next to me reaching his hand out and yells,

'High five!'

'Are you joking? No!'

I was so pissed off. I get it - he was being friendly etc - but I didn't see him be so friendly like that to any of the guys out there. He did that because I'm a woman and that meant something to him - either he wanted to meet me or he thought I wasn't going to make it or something. But I didn't want to share that wave with whoever he was. I didn't want to feel him pushing up behind my board on the wave. I didn't want him to try and touch me. And sure, I'm sensitive to this stuff, but you know what? Just don't, dude.

So I ignored him and stayed on the wave, but couldn't turn back into the pocket because he was there. And I know it didn't matter because I was getting waves enough, but I knew by then it had turned into a minor hassle-fest no matter where you sat and I just didn't feel like being singled out as someone who was easy to take waves from or to 'share' them with. As it turned out, those guys took off on my inside on every wave I got after that, and I saw them talking and smirking at me after, like I'd been a real bitch about it. But I don't have to be friendly to some guy because he wanted to engage with me. I mean, he could have just talked to me, which plenty of other guys out there were doing without making me feel singled out. They just talked to me and let me get waves without needing to be a part of that.

It's nice that dudes want to be part of women surfing out in the water, but that doesn't mean they get to make women feel uncomfortable, which this guy really did. He made me feel singled out and different and accessible and I'm sure he didn't mean any of that, but that was the effect. I considered going and explaining to him why I reacted the way I did, but since he'd already made me feel so uncomfortable, it felt risky and I didn't. I guess he's not my problem anyway.

So I sat away from that guy and picked off the wide ones, which was frustrating really because then avoiding him totally defined my waves and sure, that was my choice, but I didn't want to deal with whatever way the situation was going to go - I didn't really know anyone out there so I was on my own in negotiating it. Slowly I made my way back to the inside and got a bunch more and had a really nice surf in the green water and the gentle rain.