Welcome back to our Surf Stories! For today's surf story, we got a chance to chat with one of our favorite community surf group leaders, Kait! She helped found a local surfer women's group (follow them on Instagram @girlswhowannasurf) to foster a welcoming, fun and supportive environment in a typically male dominated lineup.
Let's start at the beginning! Where are you from?
My dad is retired Air Force, so I grew up moving everywhere across the country. He retired in Seattle, Washington where I went to high school but moved to Southern California while I was in college. Seattle is my home but I am grateful to call California my new home (and escape from the rain!).
Glad you're here! What is your current occupation and how did you get started in it?
I currently work for an accounting firm and have been in the accounting world the last four years. I realized I have a knack for numbers but also a love for people so I decided to get my MBA. I started grad school this last fall and I have enjoyed networking and gaining exposure in the business world. I hope to use my MBA to lead me in the direction where I can use my accounting experience and turn it into a leadership position, but who knows where it will take me!
How/when did you start surfing?
When I was in elementary school, I had the chance to try out short boarding. However, living in Washington meant surfing was rare and not as popular as California. To help with my love of water, I was on the high school swim team, played water polo, and a lifeguard. After I moved down to Orange County, I had friends who recommended I get into surfing because they knew I was such a fan of the beach, ocean, and swimming. I started out short boarding and in early 2020 decided to give long boarding a try – and haven’t stopped since!
How has surfing affected you/ your life?
Surfing the last year has become a huge part of my life thanks to the friendships I have gained from the nonprofit I help run called Girls Who Wanna Surf. I met my surf BFF, Cindy, at Blackies summer of 2020 and we realized us girls need to band together in the water! Obviously other ladies felt the same because we have over 600 members in the Bay area, LA County, Orange County, and San Diego County who regularly meet for our surf meet ups, participate in community beach cleanups, get educated on surf etiquette/safety, and even change out their surfboard for our skateboarding/snowboarding/skiing events.
Organizing events and meeting so many new people the last year has helped me feel like I finally am part of a community. Growing up and moving around my whole life made me feel a bit of a nomad and out of place, but surfing has helped me feel grounded and part of something special. Sometimes I just need to paddle out by myself to feel peace and help me meditate. Sometimes I want to paddle out with 30 of my GWWS ladies at San Onofre and chat in the lineup. Regardless of the circumstances, I can honestly say that surfing has changed my life and brought so many positives for me.
What inspires you?
The people that surround me are my inspirations. The ladies I surf with have told me life stories and advice that I will always remember. My family is there for me and loves me no matter what. Their journeys have truly been encouraging and help push me to always progress up and remember that life is about love and giving.
You got that right. Any fun surf or ocean related stories (epic wave, major wipeouts, aha moments, funny stories, etc.):
The first time surfing with my boyfriend was almost my last. We went out surfing at Doheny State Beach and it was his first time on a long board. While paddling out to the lineup, I was giving him some advice on transitioning from a short board to a 9’6 long board. He popped up on his first wave and the board launched below his feet – straight towards my face! I dove under water to avoid it and swam up to his face white as a ghost, thinking his board nailed me in the head and knocked me out! Luckily, it didn’t, and now I have learned to give him plenty of space in the lineup.
My other favorite funny surfing moment was when I was surfing at Blackies in Newport Beach. I remember paddling for a wave and suddenly feeling a sharp pain in my foot, and my mind immediately jumped to sting ray. I raised my foot out of the water…and realized a fisherman from Newport Pier caught me on his line! The hook had gotten stuck in the sole of my surf booty and luckily only barely snagged my skin. He began to pull on his line, obviously thinking he caught the biggest fish of his life, and not realizing he caught a poor surfer girl instead. My friends yelled and yelled at him and finally I pulled the hook out of my foot. I have no idea if he realized what happened or to this day thinks he almost caught a whooping pounder.
Omg! What a story! Can't say we've ever been caught by a fisher line LOL. Last question- Any advice/tips for surfing newbies?
The biggest piece of advice I can give to newbies is to have friends who want to join you for your surf seshes. Having people you can call and meet up with makes surfing even more fun, especially when you can laugh in the water together. A squad out in the water can help support you with “paddle for the wave!” and “scooch back a bit on your board!” and other helpful advice that can really make a difference while learning the ropes.
Kait rocking her DoGood rashie with us at San O!
Great advice! Thanks so much, Kait! We will be catching up with you soon and definitely catching some waves! For more on Kait and the gang, give @girlswhowannasurf a follow on Instagram and join their Slack chat for meet ups!
Photo credits: @thekatcreative and @jordananast