21 years ago, as I walked out on my job as a PE teacher, my mum said ‘Please don’t leave teaching, it’s such a good job for a woman‘. I agreed, but kept on walking into my own business, where luckily, I was still a teacher, just a teacher of all things surfing. I’d left the security of a full time teaching career, to the unknown of this new idea of trying to make a living out of teaching surfing. Rewind to the early 90s, there were not really any surf schools, a fledgling surf school industry was developing but everything had to be created from scratch. So with an adventurous spirit and a preparedness to take risks to follow a passion deep within me, I set up Lets Go Surfing (LGS) in 1995 out the back of a van at Bondi Beach, with 5 surfboards and an idea to promote women in surfing.
My life as a surfing instructor started then, but my journey in the ocean, started way before that. Way before there were women’s wetsuits (that actually made you look OK). Way before it was universally accepted to be a female surfer in the line up. It started with a passion for the ocean that came from within when I caught my first wave on my dad’s back when I was 3. It continued as I bodysurfed the shore dump at Coogee at 8. It continued as I walked everyday of the school holidays from Coogee to Tamarama with a bodyboard under my arm, to spend 6 hours in the water and then to walk home again at the age of 12. When I turned 14 I started riding a coolite at Tamarama, then as I progressed to a fibreglass board at 16, I cut my teeth at Maroubra and then finally Bondi Beach!
With the surfing bug fully entrenched in my life, I competed in all levels of competition from club level through to Australian titles, and discovered the absolute joy of travelling the world to surf. It was often daunting, being the only woman in the surf. I wanted to change the way girls experienced surfing and wanted to encourage them, so teaching surfing was the next step. After setting up LGS, there were a lot of women who also wanted a women’s only boardriders club. I set up Bondi Girls Surfriders Club (BGSR) in 1999 with some other like minded surfer girls, so women could feel safe to be able to compete in a girls only club and not feel embarrassed when constantly being compared to the boys.
Armed with a passion for teaching, surfing and making a difference to women’s lives, I discovered running a surf school was exactly what I was meant to be doing. Fast forward to 2017, LGS is an award winning business, operating at Bondi, Maroubra and Byron Bay. It is an equal opportunity employer for both men and women. I am surrounded by an incredible team of women working in a range of areas from surf coaching , to marketing, business development, customer service and accounts. I have proudly supported women to develop careers at LGS , having families along the way, without ever thinking about a glass ceiling! When I look out to the surf and see women of all ages catching waves, I feel a sense of pride and happiness. I still love a tropical surfing holiday and continue to search for new locations and adventures, all the while being the “Business Woman in Boardshorts”…. Sorry mum, sometimes you’ve just gotta change your world to live the life you want!