There’s a saying that goes, ‘only a surfer knows the feeling’, but as I always say in many situations, only a ‘gurfer’ knows the feeling. These so called ‘problems’ are a result from being waterlogged, salt covered, sun smashed and of course surfed out.
There’s one big question and that is; how do you actually define a ‘gurfer’? Well, basically it’s just a girl surfer. Anyone that labels themselves as a ocean lover, wave rider and most of all a surf addict. There are many times where the word gurfer is used in a negative manner and it can carry many negative connotations, but I’m only thinking good vibes here.
Bikinis, wetsuits, hair tans and of course the dreaded leash tan. Tanlines are sometimes seen as sexy, (on the right bum of course) but they definitely can spoil what you thought was going to be an amazing outfit or even just a plain tank top. Well my fellow gurfers, you aren’t the only one! So many times I put on a backless dress or top and realise ‘oh, that’s right my surf bikini runs straight down my back and I have a fluro white line that highlights my spine’, but hay, it still beats the neck (wetsuit) tan any day.
It is okay though, everyone gets tan lines, right? Even as a school sports teacher, I will come home with a ‘V’ across my chest, a sleeve line on each arm and red calves from where my socks finish. Being a girl surfer and wearing the same surf bikini day in, day out you are only expected to get a bikini tan. Let’s face it, girls that sun bake all the time in skimpy little bikinis can pull off a glowing, natural tan. Yeah, of course some tan lines are hot and are somewhat seen as a ‘yeah, I surf’, kind of tattoo, but if a tan line means wearing a bikini that actually stays on in the surf, there’s no choice to make there. Tan lines are completely worth it if it means sunshine, warm water, bikinis and of course no wetsuits!
I’m a huge sucker for this one. When I was younger and during my college/university days, many night clubs and bars would refuse me entry leaving me and my mates outside to frantically create a plan B. My eyes would be on fire. I didn’t choose to take something illicit or had consumed too many drinks, I was just sun smashed. Pterygium, a.k.a surfers eye is when a fleshy overgrowth grows over the white membrane of your eye to protect it from the elements of mother nature; the sun,wind and of course salt water. Yep, try telling that one to the security bouncers on the door!
We all love a decent guy that smiles, says hey and is just generally friendly. As a girl that surfs almost everyday, I have come to realise that even the most ‘gentlemanly’ men aren’t that nice in the lineup, so to speak. There’s nothing more unattractive than a guy that loves to snake you, drop in, yell out at you and all for what, a wave! The worst part is you probably surf better than most of the guys that do this to you! After living here in Bali and as well as surfing a lot back home in Australia, you get to know whose who; the holiday makers, the tourists, the westerners that think they’re local and the locals. I’ve been told by so many people to just paddle harder than they do, standup and give it back to them. For the ones that drop in and want to have a paddle battle with you, a simple cheer, round of applause, a thumbs up and then telling him how much of a gentleman he is, most always seals you the next wave, especially when you show him up!
On the other hand, there are ‘good ones’ out there. Not the ones that look so closely at the stitching of your bikini of course, but the ones that acknowledge you surf good and are out there for fun just like everyone one else. Guys, if you reading this give us gurfers out there a wave or at least some encouragement and a friendly smile!
Zinc. Sunscreen. Dreadlocks.
We can be ‘girly’ when we want to turn it on, but generally gurfers will not be too fussy. Okay yes, there are the bikini strutters, cake faces and of course the Alanah Blanchard’s’ out there that really get into the meaning of a good ‘bottom’ turn, but generally through my experiences gurfers are pretty relaxed and low maintenance when it comes to most things. It’s easy to get a good looking bikini these days and some natural skin coloured zinc and sun protection. There is nothing worse than having left over funky coloured zinc on your skin then hanging with friends or with that ‘gentleman’ you just met out in the surf. Face wipes ladies!
Of course washing your hair is a must, yet I can never get enough conditioner or de-tangling spray! The amount I use is ridiculous, one surf and it’s back to almost naturally made dreadlocks a.k.a tangle-ville. We are lucky at the moment girls, salty, messy, surfy looking hair is the fashion craze and it is so hard for the hairdresser to master! So keep it salty but clean.
Clothes such as dresses, jackets, tees and singlets can all be quite tight. After paddling kilometres and mastering the push-up (that misses your knees) straight to your feet, of course there is muscles that will soon be evident and growing. I’m only quite a small build for an adult but many times I put clothing on (I’m still kids size) and it will be way to big around the body, but the arms, shoulder and neck area is way too tight! Skinny straps on a dress are the worst! It can take you from looking slim and slender chest down to, too masculine up top. There’s being fit and then there is being all shoulders. I guess some gurfers out there like this look I’m not to sure though..
Girls or your girlfriends that don’t surf never do and never will understand what it is like to be a ‘gurfer’. Of course there are the girls out there that think they ‘surf’ and post all over social media beachy photos with surfboards and bikinis, but do you ever see them actually in the water? I mean come on, don’t get me wrong I absolutely love to see another chick out there learning, developing and sharing a passion for surfing (there’s no where near enough girls that surf!) and any fellow girl in the water I always try to encourage and be friendly to, but being a addicted is different to just thinking you are. Countless times girlfriends will ask to learn to surf or go for a surf together which is awesome, but at the end of the day are they there to love it or for others to see them ‘loving it’.
When the surf is pumping, your girls may not understand why you were late to brunch or missed breakfast. I mean what better excuse is there than the surf is on, right? There’s no better feeling than being totally surfed out, but try telling that to your girlfriends getting ready on New Years Eve. It can be quiet difficult to manage friendships for surfers with non-surfers especially when your girlfriends will plan days out and spontaneous shopping trips. You will feel only half hearted as you know it’s off shore and the waves are perfect, but how do you explain you’d rather be in the ocean lapping up vitamin sea rather than in the mall shopping or at a cafe. It’s quite a simple concept and as my high school teachers (oh and my uni teachers) told me I was shocking at it; Time Management. Yep, it’s tough to plan when the ocean will be good when the birthday invitations are in a months advance or family lunch is a two hour drive away, sometimes we just have to give in and miss a couple of waves.
Last but certainly not least on my list is periods. Yep, that’s right guys we actually go surfing with periods and as many of you believe, no we don’t actually get attacked by a shark! Bloated bellies, aching abs and crappy cramps that make us moan and groan only makes us hungrier for waves. Sometimes it’s a poor excuse but you really won’t feel like surfing. On the other hand, sometimes it’s all you feel like doing, especially if it’s a super hot day!
Having periods and surfing can be a challenge. Come on though it’s the 21st century, isn’t that why tampons were invented? Well yes of course, but who else loves a two-inch sting hanging out of that bikini. Probably no one. Countless times I will be more worried about that dam little string that might slip out after a heavy wipeout, duckdive or jump off than actually trying to resurface for oxygen. Paddling back to the lineup after a killer wave and thinking, hmm I hope that no one can see that string!
What could be worse than having your period and surfing? The thought of getting a period in the surf, being so totally unprepared only to find out you don’t actually have it! Many times I’ll catch myself stressing out in my mind massively. Yep, it’s there, it has definitely just come. I’m like an hour drive from home and none of these shops will sell what I’m looking for. My thoughts exactly, followed by a frantic paddle in and race home only to realise that the water you just landed on, on your backside must come out some way or another, right?
(photos: Carolin Vogel at Shimmy Surf Bracelets)