Courtesy Photo

Until I hit my mid-twenties, the sum of my surfing experience involved watching Point Break (repeatedly) and the occasional purchase of surf-brand apparel. To me, surfing seemed like a sport celebrated by salty old men and dominated by young, edgy boys. I didn’t see a place in the lineup for girls with only mild athletic talent, like me.

I still vividly remember the day I paddled out for my first surf session. I had no idea what to expect, though I naively planned to excel immediately. It became quickly obvious that I wouldn’t be winning surf competitions anytime soon — but that didn’t matter. I wrapped up that maiden day surfing experience with tired arms and a happy soul.

I haven’t looked back since.

Not that it’s been easy. Learning to surf well is quite challenging, and it didn’t come naturally to me. It took me weeks to actually catch my first wave, and sometimes I’m shocked that I stuck with it. Many days, I’ve broken up with the sea, put its belongings on the curb and turned my back — only to come back the next day, tail between my legs, wearing my ill-fitting wetsuit and lugging my clunky board right back down to the shoreline.

<b>INSPIRE ON WATER:</b> Alelia Parenteau shares her deep love of waveriding with iSurf students.
Courtesy Photo

Why did I keep going? Simply put, I had to. That’s the thing about surfing. Once you experience “the stoke,” you just can’t quit. Even on the hardest days, you sit in the ocean, gazing upon our stunning coastline, feeling a deep connection with nature and the kind of peace that only comes when you leave your electronic devices behind. You are grateful just to be in the moment.

Oh, and on the days when it works, when you catch wave after wave, gliding along the face of the water moving faster than the wind? That’s when surfing transcends sport to become something absolutely glorious, even spiritual.

And it doesn’t matter how scared you are or how cold you are or how tired you are. With the right instruction and the right people at your side, riding a surfboard can be an ultimately rewarding and empowering experience.

That was the inspiration for iSurf, to build a place of encouragement, camaraderie, and community that would make women of all ages, abilities, and contexts feel safe and strong in the water. I wanted to offer more than just a lesson. My dream is committed long-term instruction, a supportive community, and an opportunity to women of all ages who wanted to experience surfing but who may, for whatever reason, not have felt ready.

Thankfully, that’s happened in a very quick time. The women of iSurf have become a family — a growing, loving, diverse family whose impact on each other extends far beyond our time in the water. Together we’ve gone through some of life’s greatest joys and challenges, becoming not only better surfers but also better people in the process. Today, more and more women are catching the stoke, one wave at a time.

Come join us. We can’t wait to surf with you!


iSurf’s second annual block party to benefit the Watergirl Fund is on Sunday, August 30, from 5-9 p.m. at Casa de la Guerra. Tickets are $40 in advance, $50 at door, and include pig-roast dinner, ice cream bar dessert, entertainment, and two drinks. See


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