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Uncategorized / Nov ‘2013

Surfing mums

Uncategorized / NOV ‘2013

Surfing mums

Being a mother often means that you need to give up the things that you love, but these mums have found a way to still be mums do what they love – Surfing!

Words Freelancer

At first glance they look like any other surfers, bobbing up and down on their boards waiting patiently for the next decent wave. But scan your gaze back to the beach and you’ll soon see the difference, there’s more than a beach towel waiting on the sand for this surfing clan – in fact there’s a brood. Meet Perth’s Surfing Mums – a dedicated group of women who share a passion for surfing and parenting, and see no reason why the two can’t be combined.

It’s not a new phenomenon; the first Surfing Mums group started in Byron Bay with two new mums who were feeling a little lost. They were brought together by their love of surfing and the frustration at having to now sit on the beach with their babies just watching the waves. So they started to meet on a regular basis, taking turns to look after each other’s children while the other went surfing.

Word quickly spread and the idea moved from State to State, and now there are 15 Surfing Mums groups nationally, comprising Surfing Mums Australia.

In 2008 the group became an incorporated association, so members pay either an annual or half-yearly fee and are fully covered by public liability insurance.

The mums get together annually in Byron Bay for the group’s annual general meeting, which of course also factors in plenty of time for them to take advantage of the many amazing local breaks.

WA has two main groups in Perth and Geraldton, with Perth’s group comprised of about 20 members who meet each week for surfing and “beach-sitting” duties. Members are encouraged to buddy up and look after each other’s children, who range in age from six weeks to 15 years old, on a one-on-one basis for a designated time period, before swapping babies for boards.

Cara Williams has been a member of Surfing Mums Perth for two years and is now the national secretary, but she says the group has given her far more than just the chance to go surfing.

As a single mum hailing from the east coast, Cara says meeting others who shared her passion for surfing and encouraging a healthy, outdoor lifestyle was an invaluable support for her.

“For me it’s not just a group, I consider these women to be my friends,” Cara says. “It’s such a great support network.”

There is no question that Cara is mad about surfing, she’s been a keen surfer since the age of 15 and her daughter Lacey Lane is named after a surf break in Queensland. After finding out about Surfing Mums from her Mothers Group, Cara says she thought it was too good to be true and quickly joined up when Lacey was just six months old. She’s never looked back.

“Surfing Mums has given me so much, both mentally and physically and I love that we’re teaching our kids to be active throughout life.”

“It’s such a welcoming group of people and I think that attitude comes from our co-ordinator, Claire Romea Gorton, who is now the national president too,” she says. “We just adore her and she encourages a really friendly and non-judgemental environment. Surfing Mums has given me so much, both mentally and physically and I love that we’re teaching our kids to be active throughout life. We’ve got such a great mix of members and there is a range of ages, some in their late forties and one who only learnt to surf when she in her forties but is amazing. But everyone is really passionate about living a healthy, outdoor lifestyle.”

New members are encouraged to join, even if you’re not a skilled surfer or have never surfed before, they can arrange a few lessons before you join the regular weekly meets. Although it’s aimed at mums, the group is not limited to women – dads and carers are also encouraged to come along.

If you’re not in Perth or Geraldton but love the idea, Surfing Mums is also happy to support the formation of new groups.

According to Cara, one of the keys to success is the buddy-up system, so new members feel more comfortable about hitting the water knowing that their child will be well cared for in their absence.

 

“For me it’s not just a group, I consider these women to be my friends,” Cara says. “It’s such a great support network.”

“In order to do it right, the mums pair up so it’s not just a mass of women and children, there is more responsibility and it works well,” she says. “I get to go out and enjoy a surf knowing that Lacey is in good hands. The Perth group generally meets at Trigg in summer and Cottesloe in winter, or wherever the waves are best, as co-ordinated by Claire.” They also take two annual surf trips. One is a closer, long weekend trip where families are encouraged to come along and the other is the main trip, which this year was an all-mums surfing trip to Java. And Cara maintains that “surfing trip” is not just code for a glorified relaxing holiday with cocktails by the pool, these mums mean business. Picture nine women walking through the airport, each with one or two board bags – clothes stuffed in around their beloved boards. This is clearly not a shopping trip.

“We surfed from dawn until dusk, it was amazing,” Cara says. “It’s something that a lot of male surfers have had the opportunity to experience but not a lot of women, especially mums. We got back and pretty much re-booked for a trip in April, with another mum and I even signing ourselves up to learn Indonesian before we head back.”

 

For more information:

www.surfingmums.com