Women have surfed for as long as men

Here are just a few images of some women whose surfing I admire and who have made important contributions to surfing and surfing culture over the last few hundred years. And I assure you, this list of women here, is the tip of a very big iceberg.

Engraving of women surfing in Hawai'i.

Isma Amor was surfing in Manly from as early as 1912.

Isabel Letham was the infamous teenage girl taken into the surf with Duke Kahanamoku in 1915. She was an amazing woman. As part of a long and full life, she was the Director of Swimming for the City of San Francisco. She decided to teach surf lifesaving techniques as part of her program. She attempted to join Manly life saving club in the late 1920s, but was knocked back because as a woman she would not able to handle the rough conditions of the sea. What a crock of shit. (Note: Women were not admitted as members of the Australian Life Saving Association until the 1980s. For real.)
Isabel Letham is a total hero. You can read more about her via the National Library of Australia

 Phyllis O'Donnell surfing in the 1964 World Titles at Manly. She won. Photo by Ron Perrott, taken from the Historic Houses Trust website for the Surf City exhibition held in Sydney last year.

Linda Benson seems like a pretty cool cat.

Rell Sunn. All time.

Wendy Botha is a four time world surfing champion (1987, 1989, 1991, 1992). She still rips.


  1. Nice piece, Reminded me of my big sister teaching me to surf on a hacked down 8' short board at the Noosa river mouth back in 1971. She still hits the water and never wears a wettie!


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