From left, Sierra Partridge, Sofia Mulanovich, Leila Hurst, Alana Blanchard, Malia Manuel, Sally Fitzgibbons, Coco Ho, Laura Enever, Sage Erickson, Quincy Davis, Courtney Conlogue, and Hailey Partridge, photographed at Crystal Cove State Park, in Newport Coast, California.Photograph by Michael Halsband. Styled by Tracy Taylor.
Meet the new female stars of surfing.
Photograph by MICHAEL HALSBANDJuly 2009
Fifty years after Gidget stirred up waves in the male-dominated surfing world, a new set of young women in their teens and 20s are revolutionizing the sport, from the beaches of Montauk to Australia. The best will be stoked to flaunt their tailslides and aerial maneuvers at this month’s U.S. Open of Surfing, in Huntington Beach, California—the Kentucky Derby of the ocean.
And these aren’t just beach bunnies paddling to “California Girls.” “It’s all about sharing waves,” says former world champ Sofia Mulanovich, 26, of Peru, in characteristic surfer parlance. “One of the best girl surfers could probably beat 80 percent of the men.” Which raises the question: How will the dudes impress them when they’re left behind, getting crushed inside the set? —ADAM KLAPPHOLZ
Don’t be fooled by the skimpy suits and the sunny smiles: it was a chilly Southern California afternoon when these 12 young athletes gathered surfside for our shoot. From left: Sierra Partridge, Sofia Mulanovich, Leila Hurst, Alana Blanchard, Malia Manuel, Sally Fitzgibbons, Coco Ho, Laura Enever, Sage Erickson, Quincy Davis, Courtney Conlogue, and Hailey Partridge.
Styled by Tracy Taylor.
Last July, at the age of 14, Malia Manuel (center), of Kauai, became the youngest winner ever of the U.S. Open of Surfing, surprising even herself. “It still seems unreal. I can’t believe it. It’s not something a 14-year-old could plan,” Manuel says. Alana Blanchard (left), 19, also of Kauai, is currently ranked 13 on the Association of Surfing Professionals World Tour and is the face of surf-gear giant Rip Curl. Hailey Partridge (right), 20, of Santa Cruz, California, has become synonymous with women surfers through her many appearances with her twin, Sierra. Come this July, Manuel is ready to do it all again at the U.S. Open of Surfing. “I’m going to try to defend my title,” she says, “but it’ll be interesting this year. A lot of the others girls my age are doing the U.S. Open. It’ll be a good show.”
Not accustomed to life on land, these surfers are most comfortable with their boards in hand. “The photo shoot was amazing,” say Coco Ho, 18, of Oahu, Hawaii (bottom row, second from left). “It was super different from anything any of us have done. Going into Vanity Fair, we had legit makeup artists and hairdressers, which was something we weren’t used to. I mean, we’re just surfers.”
“When my sister and I began surfing, I would go out by myself and I would count at least 20 guys, and I’d be the only girl. I think it’s becoming more accepted as a girls’ sport. I see so many girls starting at age four or five now,” says Hailey Partridge (far left).
“The level of women’s surfing right now is through the roof. It just keeps getting better, with younger girls coming up and pushing everybody,” says former world champ Sofia Mulanovich (second from right).
“I think the guys are definitely respecting the women a lot more because when you go in the water, they’re not hopping out as much. Of course you have those few people who don’t care, and they’ll just go in front of you and take your waves. But there’s less and less of a division in the water now—you’re just someone else out there trying to catch waves,” says Courtney Conlogue (far left).
“A lot of people talk about the younger generation surpassing the older generation, but I think that’s overblown. When I go out surfing, there are kids younger than me, and people older—I mean, my dad’s 60 and still rips. That’s the neat thing about surfing: everyone can be involved in it, no matter your age or skill level,” says Sierra Partridge, 20, of Santa Cruz (fifth from left).
We were born and raised in Santa Cruz, California where we currently reside. We get to travel and model for some of my surfing sponsors including O'neill Clothing, Ocean Minded Footwear, Hobie Surfboards and Betty Belts Jewelry. We attend UC Santa Barbara and are both Communication majors. We hope you all enjoy our blog!