Riding the waves of success 

Surf champion puts more girls on surfboards

In Long Beach, Tofino, where the locals obsess over the swell rather than the snow, about 20 girls make their way across the sand.

They walk with a singular purpose toward the water. Few talk. Most have their eyes trained on the crashing waves of the Pacific, breaking before the horizon.

Their slick, black wet suits hug their curves. Their hair is pulled back in long ponytails. Surfboards are tucked underarm.

Without a faltering step, without a second look back, they each walk into the water, one after the other, soon becoming another one of the black dots, bobbing in the distance, waiting.

Their composed journey from sand to sea marks the changing nature of surfing.

"More than half of the people going surfing are women," said Jenny Hudnall, Tofino native and the top female surfer on the Canadian surf scene.

At the age of 28, Hudnall is the epitome of every surfer girl, from her sun- drenched blonde hair to her tanned skin.

She is also one of the reasons why so many more girls are hitting the surf in Tofino.

Her four-year-old surf shop, Surf Sister, is the only female surf shop in Canada. It’s a place where wannabe surfers can rent wetsuits and boards and learn from the top female surfers in the country.

"My whole reason for starting Surf Sister was to even out the numbers in the water," she said.

"And it’s working."

Stepping back 15 years, Hudnall said there were hardly any girls in Tofino’s waters when she first picked up a board to impress a boy.

She was 13-years-old at the time and learning on a hand-me-down, broken board, which her cousin had mended well enough for a teenage girl to learn on.

With a handful of other girls making up a little surfer girl gang, Hudnall and her friends trailed after the boys.

Together, the girls taught themselves how to surf while the boys honed their own skills.

"Every time we’d go surfing we’d get a little tidbit about surfing," she said.

Now she’s passing those tidbits along.

"So (girls) don’t have to go through what I went through."

At last weekend’s surf lesson on Long Beach nine first time surfers, a mixture of guys and girls, were shown the ropes with two surf instructors.

But even before the wetsuits were on the inevitable question was posed.

"How long till I can really surf?"

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