“My dad taught me how to surf when I was 8… we used his 11ft longboard, he’d paddle on the back and I’d stand on the front we used to go out every day with our neighbors & family, we’d always stay out till the sunset. Best memories!!”
That is where Nauset Grad Emma Warrens love for riding waves began. Like many before her she is a true Cape Cod surfer girl.
Cape Cod surfer girls are represented in numbers that I believe would surprise you. For example: A woman who is not only a Select board member in my town of Eastham but also runs the Pump House Surf Shop in Orleans, Jamie Demetri, tells me that this summer surfboard buyers are now “50-50 men & women… everybody’s getting in the water”.
Personally, I have been a beach bum for most of my life and about a decade ago I became a photog fixture on the Outer Cape beaches. I have seen firsthand from Long Nook in Truro to Coast Guard in Eastham to right in between those two beaches at the annual Oldtimers Longboard event at White Crest in Wellfleet the large number of girls of all ages who dig the thrill of catching waves and socializing with others who find joy in spending time along the shore searching for the perfect set lining up in the distance.
You might think that guys who surf are more aggressive but that is far from the truth. Examples: Eastham’s Eileen Masterson & Miranda Kielpinski of Brewster. Trust me, these two are fierce. I have admired their surf stamina for years -. They will surf all year long – hot summer days, cold winter ones, it hardly matters they are in it for the love of the sport and they are right there pushing their better halves and many times out surfing them.
Eileen told me, “I would watch the surfers and knew someday I would surf when the kids got older. I still remember the day that we were at White Crest (in Wellfleet) and a surfer took one of the kids under his wing when he was out boogie boarding in the line-up. After that day we all morphed into surfers. We taught each other. I look back on it now and realized how fortunate I was.” These days I see Eileen out riding waves almost every day that I’m at the beach.
Mirandas story is much like that of Eileen with family being the big factor. Both their families have been friends for forever. As Miranda says “There’s no other feeling like it, being in nature and catching a wave it’s unexplainable. I love the unknown of it, every wave is different every swell is different. It’s never the same. Surfing with a good group of friends and a good wave is the Best feeling in the world and I’m lucky enough to share it with my husband and dad!”
The Cape Cod surfer girls of the future are learning now from many including Katy Weeks, who is still young yet quite the veteran of the Cape surf scene. Katy tells me her story “I’ve spent my whole life at the beach and when I was in my teens I caught the surf bug … when I started was mostly men out there… There was just a small handful of us girls .. and all dudes.. we kind of had to learn the hard way… getting yelled at getting in the way until we figured it out and got better than the boys... There was a surf boom a little over 10 years ago and it was great because there were more females in the water and more people in general.”
These days Katy operates ‘Sugar Surf Cape Cod’ and spends her summers on the beach at Marconi in Wellfleet teaching youngsters how to ride the waves and how to watch out for one another while doing it.
She told me “I wanted to teach on the cape to share my passion and to inspire more woman to surf. But also because I noticed that there are a lot of people out there that didn’t really know all of the rules and etiquette when It came to surfing. I thought it was important to share that with the people…. It is one of the most important things we teach!!”.
Safety and keeping an eye out have been crucial to the surf scene forever. Long before the increased numbers of sharks along the shoreline.
Sharks are a constant subject in the Cape’s surf community. Most never see one but others have including Wellfleet’s Dani Benton who told me “I have seen fins a couple different times… prior to the increase in shark activity the ocean was always a safe place for me that I found comfort, and it’s always just been really fun and exhilarating!” Benton, who juggles several jobs and one of her new ones, motherhood, she still finds a little time for her ocean passion “only longboard this time of year”.
Emma Doyle, when out of the ocean is a columnist and yoga instructor describes time on the water as having a “connection with the ocean. It’s way of forcing you to be 100% present and in the moment when you’re paddling for and riding a wave. The moments in between, alone + with yourself, or with others that you have a shared connection to this thing with”. Has Emma had a shark encounter? The answer is yes and she says it’s “Pretty surreal. You obviously need to tell the people that you’re surfing with that you’ve seen one so you’ve gotta keep your cool but also be diligent… We obviously know that they’re there and the risks involved, but seeing one is a level of deeper understanding.”
When analyzing my female friends who surf I think to myself there is no way I could do what they do when they suit up, wax their boards and paddle out to ride the wild surf of Cape Cod. They truly are a different breed of Cape Codders. Confident and very cool.
Eastham’s Jenny Layton, who seems to always be smiling sums up the drive perfectly “I love to surf because it challenges me to continuously improve and simultaneously brings such serenity, to be out in nature, plus I love to surf with my cousins, uncles, mom and friends, the surf community on the cape is so special to many of us who surf here. I’ve been surfing since I was about 10”.
Are you noticing that there seems to be an extremely strong family bond when it comes to surfing on the Cape?
Cassandra Papadonis learned from her dad 69 feet below the cliffs of Wellfleet’s White Crest Beach not too far from Eastham’s Coast Guard Beach where she once surfed right over a shark. If memory serves me I’m pretty sure everyone in her family except her mom rides waves. Then there’s Kate Driscoll, both Kate and her dad surf for the love of the game. Kate’s famous for her handstands which amaze me every time I see one.
These days I am witnessing the passing of the torch that in some cases spans three generations.
Cape Cod surfer girls possess drive, energy, and passion for doing something that is so difficult while doing it with such ease. Stay safe and stay stoked ladies.
This year surfing is an Olympic sport. How long until a Cape Cod surfer girl grabs a spot on the roster?
I am so happy to be friends with a large slice of the Cape Cod Surfer Girl population. A thousand thanks to Emma, Emma, Eileen, Miranda, Cassandra, Jamie, Jenny, Kate, Kate, Dani, Rachael, Jessica, Susan, Eva, Heather, Gael and the unknown for the insight and for being a part of my image gallery.