Designer Lane Girls Northshore

What does it mean to be underground: Girls?

My life revolves around maps, buoy reports and surf forecasts, When its on, I am usually checking the surf before there is even enough light to see the waves and if I am injured, and can still crawl down the beach to the surf, you can bet I will be out there, the difference is nothing other than the fact that I am a girl.

While women's surfing explodes onto mainstream TV, movie theaters and throughout shopping malls around the world, they fail to tell my story or that of anyone like me. " they don't even know we exist" utters Karen. With a big grin Jayde chuckles "Well it's a man's world so bend over and smile for the camera," With almost all women's surfing essentials (mags, clothes, etc) made by men we are basically in a business where nobody even cares that "nobody cares" Most male industry types already turned the page because its just simply not cool for a guy to take and interest in women's sports unless of course it involves "sex(cutchie)" This epitomizes the reality that our products are made for women and marketed to men.

We are more like one of the boyz, than the majority of girls. After devoting our lives to surfing right beside the guys on some of the most classic days in our eras surfing history we have gained their respect, even the ones who may have at some point teased us just for our participation. Looking back, you wouldn't' trade in any of those classic days for a trademark of glory, but its kindof more than just a bummer to feel exempt from the women's industry you helped create.

Some of that respect and support " would be nice", says Karen Gallagher ; the sun-kissed pale-blue eyed girl whose every ounce composes what it is to be a women surfer. So much, that a casting agent from Blue Crush said she would not match as a stunt double for the movie because her arms were too big. Getting dropped by her sponsors as soon as she became pregnant didn't discourage her because she surfs even better now as a mom. "Your like a born again surfer" because with just an hour "every wave count"s and even just diving under water feels soooo good". A 3rd generation surfer, Karen made the finals in the biggest ever contestable conditions at a women's Sunset event held by XCEL. She consistently placed in quarters and semis in the pro event there until it became obsolete. Unlike before, event sponsors have clothing lines dedicated strictly to women but now, they no longer support this type of big wave venue leaving Karen's only opportunity to compete at Turtle Bay "definitely not a northshore caliber world class wave". Therefore the same 5th place result she earned $1350 for in the 80s would only earn her $900 this year. The Billabong event on Maui racks up more than double what Karen earned formerly, however this event, including the triple crown, and others of the same caliber around the world are limited to 16 girls and a couple wildcards. Unfortunately women's wild cards have such low standards that they have been given to Roxy models and an even the MTV's surf girls reality series where girls were obviously chosen for emotional instability over surfing ability. With no trials (as they offer for the mens events) you can see why Karen feels like the companies who have made "kazillions" off the image of women's surfing are not giving back to the girls like her who have dedicated a lifetime to the sport. Besides that "there are probably at least a hundred male surfers on the island that get free clothing and cash every month just to surf and go on a few killer photo trips. There aren't any girls that get that": it all goes to their so-called surfer models and since "we are all over 14 years old and 80 lbs, forget it". Nonetheless, Karen loves that surfing keeps challenging her, "from the wave, to the equipment your riding to what your going to do on the wave" and knows that nothing can ever take away from that joy of riding a wave.

I remember reading the title "unknown surfer girl" as I looked at a picture of Jayde Wright in the barrel at Sunset who had just made the semi finals of the Sunset Beach Roxy Pro. Though novice surfer girls who danced down the beach were making names for themselves at that time, Jayde seems quite simply to get a big kick out of the whole thing. " I think my life is just like the best life you could ever live" she says. At 45, the slender, yet buff, sunbleached burnett, attributes her outstanding physical condition to a diet of "Yoga and Beer" With a huge grin on her face she tells a story about how back in the early 90s, a barrel shot of her at backdoor lost out in photo contest to a picture of girl holding a bodyboard on the beach. I guess that might help explain why current women's magazines claim that women never used to get barreled. While Jayde complements the progression of the pro girls, she takes issue with all the women's surfing magazines. All those magazines are really disapointing, its like Cosmopolitan or something" and while it doesn't bother her so much to see "the same few girls doing a few manuvers." it frustrates her because "people buy surfing magazines because they want to see surfing". After 2 years Jayde cancelled her subscribtions and said "I am not supporting this, these magazines are junk. Voted by her piers as catching the biggest wave ever ridden by a girl at Sunset, she is quick to credit another underground girl named Ukali. As I watched some of the Northshore's most knowledgeable waterwomen passing the buck, I thought that it might be this type of humility which keeps them underground, because in Hawaii, when you start talking big, the waves have this way of showing you just how small you really are.

I guess its really just about "Pure Surfing" says Sue Stewart who smiles even in her despair about not ever having a chance to compete at Sunset or test her skills against the best in big waves. Sue understands the purity of what it means to understand big waves since she was the first women lifeguard on the northshore to work all the stations. If you have seen this strong amazon-like wave riding gallivant, you wouldn't doubt her ability to have made rescues at surf spots like Waimea, Sunset and Pipe. The thing that really gets to her is that when all the girls come into town "they don't have respect for the local girls" and it just might be because she doesn't seem to see any of them out at Sunset when its 10 ft (except Layne Beachly). "Thats when the local girls shine, when it gets big", she says, "we know the spots, we know where to sit, we know what size board to take out" We all agreed that it would take a contest to push most the pro girls into bigger waves on a more consistent basis. Though Sue hasn't benefited much from the growth of the women's industry directly, her business teaching surf lessons, has done so well that she just indulged in her first brand new car. I think its safe to stay Sunset Suzy is stoaked.

Bodyboarders are some of the most hardcore women out there. I remember watching 3 of them surf Pipe all to themselves because they had the guts to paddle out even when it was backwashy and basically getting too big. They looked like they were having so much fun that I think I must of made it my goal to be out there with them whether I could ever catch a wave or not. One of those girls was Emilia Perry, who I see in the parking lot at the crack of dawn every day Pipe Breaks. Whether it be standing on the beach in utter anguish, or paddling out rght after12 ft bombs hit the reef, none of it would have been the same without having another girl to share it all with. Her nickname Pokuhantis, might describe her looks on the beach, but once she hits the water, watch out, the princess turns into a piranha! She contributes her fervor at Pipe as a weapon "to keep guys like Bali Joe from dropping in on me", but admits that it helps to be accompanied by her husband Tamayo Perry in the fierce pack. Emilia, may have passed up a few sponsorships by choosing to focus on big pipe with a bodyboard rather than looking cute on a longboard in Waikiki, but unless its enough "to put food on my table, I get more results working once a week and not having to answer for it" I say this because while taking the opportunity to try tandeming for her first time at Teaupoo she scored an instant covershot. After picking up a shortboard just a couple years back, she already takes off on waves some top pro girls might reconsider. Her goal is to become the ultimate watergirl and her dream would be to compete in a women's Pipe event which includes longboarding, shortboarding and bodyboarding. However, the bodyboarding contest she took 5th place in last year was just canceled for the first time in a decade, so you can see why she feels that "the more popular surfings getting the more backwards we are going. "There's nothing for women to enter" she explains, then refers to a women's expression session at Pipe last year where only 2 pro girls were allowed to paddle out saying "that makes me sick, no that really makes me sick". She doesn't approve of the way women are forced to gravel and "dance like a monkey" to get sponsorships or coverage. "Getting a sick barrel" says Emilia. " should be worth just as much as you could get dancing."

Breakdancing was actually my first experience with the word underground. Laugh now, but on the streets in the early 80s it all had meaning. Like being a women surfer back in the dayze you had to be hardcore, it wasn't just some big show to make people think you were cute. Once frowned upon by society I have watched them both cultured lifestyles rise to glory almost simultaneously, losing almost everything they once set out to gain. New skool rappers bling around promoting the violence every element of Hip Hop was bread to stop and women surfers who were once happy just to see another girl in the line up, would now think it is a big deal to even acknowledge each others existence. People think of me as the girl in the red VW. The ones who know me would tell you I haven't missed many good surf days in my last 16 years spent on Oahu even if included a drive across the island to Ala Moana. My name is Lane Davey and while surfing is my joy, my passion, my life and maybe even my existence, it is also my pain. What most people don't realize is that when I wasn't in the water, I was just as dedicated to women's surfing and literally made it my business. In 1993, after graduating from UH with a degree in fashion, I made what I believe to be the very first women's boardshort. People scoffed at my idea of creating "the original women's surf line", but as they laughed they followed, my ideas, my designs, and my marketing ideas, all the way to the bank. Years later, a buyer from one of Hawaii's top surf shops, questioned the lines authenticity asking if it was a real surf company with teamriders? What hurt so bad wasn't that I had the first real women's surf team or even that I had sunk my profits back into it, but I was at that moment in between tour events where I traveled around the world competing with surfboards on one shoulder and a sample bag full of my designs on the other. As Roxy's head designer boasts in a surf magazine about never even attempting to surf, I am out testing my womens surf gear at third reef Pipe. Big Pipe, smalll pipe, junk pipe, I have been dedicated to it in every condition for about the last 7 years, not saying that Im good at it, just that I love it, so when Blue Crush sends a girl here from Australia and pays her to surf Pipe all alone escorted by jetskis, it sucks. Too bad elite girls who are hardly ever out there, told movie producers that no women surf big waves on the northshore, or maybe we could have at least had the chance they gave the main character in their own movie. This was a turning point for me which confirmed my perception that the women are at times their own worst enemies. If the women don't care to help each other, who will? When I christened my company with the name Us Girls almost 10 years ago I never realized the impact it would have every time I wanted to give up, "I mean how can I give up on Us Girls I would say to myself?", and still haven't. Although Us Girls may not portray the women with the most stickers on their boards who are plastered across billboards everywhere, they are still the ones you know are out there every day in every condition and when you see them you'll be happy just to see another girl.

Us Girls Designer