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Surfer Girls: We hit the waves for a beginners lesson with Girls Who Surf

The instructors watch each student’s progress from boards nearby. Within minutes, a few students are standing upright on their boards, knees bent, with smiles spreading across their faces.

“Yeah!” yells Ahlborg, palpably excited, watching one of his students catch his first wave. “You got it!”

After some time in the ocean, I find myself impressed watching the instructors at work cheering on beginners, shouting out instructions and making sure everyone has a good time on the waves. No detail about surfing is irrelevant. No question is scoffed at, no matter how ridiculous. And everyone is kept together and safe.

“Man, that was great,” raves Dana Brisson, 55, of Connecticut, fresh from catching his first waves ever. “It was a lot more challenging that I though it would be.

“I play golf 60 times a year. I wanted to try something different.”

Most of the students who sign up for lessons with Girls Who Surf are first-timers, says Erika Laws, the school’s lead instructor, who grew up surfing in San Diego.

“We cater to smaller groups and provide more of a one-on-one experience,” says Laws. “Because of that, we really get to know the students a lot better and we can tailor the instruction to their abilities.”

That said, on this morning, very few of the students in my Girls Who Surf class seem overly preoccupied with the emphasis on personalized instruction.

As our brief time in Kalaeloa’s surf nears its end, most are simply happy catching their first waves in Hawaii and snapping photos of the experience to return home with bragging rights.

“This is the birthplace of surfing,” says Skip Paul, back on land and grinning. “Who wouldn’t want to do this?”

Girls Who Surf
(808) 772-4583 • Click here to visit the Girls Who Surf website.

Photos by Kristen Hook

(This feature was originally published in the July/August 2013 issue of HAWAII Magazine.)

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