Women surfers make waves at the New York Surf Film Festival

More then ever, bad-ass, inspiring women are jumping on surfboards—and several are making waves as filmmakers, too.

women surfers

The New York Surf Film Festival hit the city this week, and surfing has never been more popular in the city.

This year, it seemed every Hamptons visitor was catching waves, SurfSet Fitness launched, and lots of yoga retreats added the sport to their agendas.

And while the buzz has caused a spike in beginners, the testosterone-dominated pastime has also seen an uptick in bad-ass, inspiring women who are ready to hop on board.

“The fact is that there are women out there who surf just as hard as the men, and the industry is taking notice,” says Calavera Swimwear founder Anna Jerstrom, who premiered her film, Water Warriors, at the festival. “We still have a long way to go, but women are starting to realize that it doesn’t just have to be a man’s world.”

Here are three awesome female surfers making waves at the festival this year…


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Anna Jerstrom
Founder, Calavera Swimwear. Filmmaker: Water Warriors

“I love that surfing challenges your limits both physically and mentally. It demands your absolute attention and commitment to the point where nothing else matters. It is as though you leave everything you have been worrying about on the beach when your board hits the water. Your mind is perfectly clear, perfectly focused on just one thing: catching that wave.

I think it is great for surfing to have a mix between men and women in the water; the dynamic and the energy of the line-up eases up when there are a few women to balance out the testosterone charged air.”



Elisa Bates Elisa Bates
Filmmaker, Away

“For my film, I interviewed Steve Stathis, who is a life-long surfer and resident of Rockaway Beach and owner of Boarders Surf Shop in Rockaway, about the surf community there. He was surprised by the number of women who were into surfing when he opened the shop in 2004, and now he estimates that about 25 percent of the people in the water are women.

At this point in my relationship with surfing (still a beginner), what I love most about it is its strong connection with nature and the simplicity of the sport. It’s you in the ocean with a board. I love being at the beach and being in the ocean, and of course, if I manage to catch a wave, then that makes the whole thing even better.”



Morgan Berk
Founder, New York Surf Film Festival

“I love it when there are more women paddling out at my local break, and they rip! We all bond instantly and the vibe is more relaxed when girls are in the water.

I’m just a general beach bum, which is how I got started. The ocean is such a powerful force—it’s a direct pipeline to the source of all of creation. It’s always moving and changing, and you never know what it will give you. We plug in, and it takes us. Some people think that we ride it, but it’s really riding us.”



Anna Jerstrom More Reading

6 reasons to get surfing!

The 5 hottest surfboards for summer

New York’s top yoga and fitness instructors hop on the in-studio surfboard


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