“There is no question about it; we are living in unprecedented times and change is finally happening on all fronts. As a woman involved in the sport of surfing for almost three decades, it has been beautiful to watch the sisterhood grow and expand,” said multiple South African Masters surfing champion and founder of Find Your Stoke, Tasha Mentasti.
Extending from the annual Women on Waves fundraising surf event held in California, and due to COVID-19 restrictions it is now celebrated worldwide via social media. Waves of Women is the culmination of a partnership between nonprofit organisation, Find Your Stoke and non-governmental organization, The Beach Co-op to showcase how much diversity there is within the Cape Town surfing community and get the conversation started as to why we are not seeing more of these brave, beautiful women in the water.
“Our intention is to create and promote participation of all women of all abilities in ocean and water activities,” said The Beach Co-op founder, Aaniyah Omardien.
The Cape Town gathering had three elements in store. The early morning stoke levels would be topped up with an invigorating sunrise surf session, guided by Mentasti. However, as surfers know, the ocean can be unpredictable and since Neptune failed to deliver the expected early morning swell, the surf session was rescheduled for later in the day and first up was a beach cleanup adventure at Surfers Corner, Muizenberg, hosted by The Beach Co-op and attended by ocean warriors and citizen scientists from all backgrounds, colours and ages.
Founded five years ago, The Beach Co-op (https://www.thebeachcoop.org/) is on a mission to turn the tide on single use plastics and is constantly involved in various marine conservation projects and education to inspire future generations of ocean enthusiasts.
Making the circle of diversity bigger, the cleanup was followed by a surf therapy session hosted by Find Your Stoke (www.findyourstoke.org) and showcasing Khayelitsha resident, 2020 silver medallist at the ISA World Para Surfing Championships and #gsport15 Ministerial Award recipient, Noluthando Makalima and her family.
Mentasti was able to establish Find Your Stoke with the help of a substantial donation that she received in 2019, when she won the international Aloha Award in recognition of her altruistic contribution as a member of the international surfing community towards upholding and spreading the Aloha Spirit which is also known as Ubuntu.
Today, Find Your Stoke continues to share the spirit of Ubuntu by providing free surf therapy sessions to people from under-served communities along the South African coastline who are challenged with disability, mental health and/or social isolation.
With enough swell having pushed in, the surfing session got under way around lunchtime, bringing much laughter, sharing of stories at backline and the pure joy of being one with the ocean.
The Waves of Women experience contributed more than just a fun day to these women’s lives.
“As a woman of colour I have had instances where I’ve felt marginalised based on the colour of my skin as surfing is a predominantly white sport. Being with women who have had similar experiences and share a love and passion for the ocean made me feel part of some kind of a new movement that I feel would really evolve the surfing community,” said Noordhoek resident, Caitlin October.
Caitlin said if women of colour became aware of these kinds of events they would realise they were not alone in the sport which would slowly start encouraging more girls and women of colour to join the sport.
If you would like to donate, volunteer or just show your support, please go to https://findyourstoke.org/buy-tickets or follow the movement on Instagram:
Follow the movement on Instagram:
With editing by gsport