Indigenous surfing community quickly growing in popularity

As the summer months come into full force, the Indigenous surfing community continues to grow rapidly – especially the Indigenous women’s surfing community.

For the last eight years at Victoria’s iconic Bells Beach, Australia has hosted the Australian Indigenous Surfing Titles, with this year’s competition having eight females in the Open class and eight females in the Juniors.

Surfing since she was just nine years old, 16-year-old Jasmine McCorquodale is a Kamilaroi surfer with big dreams – to be the first female Indigenous surfer on the World Tour.

The young surfer took out her first Open Women’s win at the 2019 Australian Indigenous Surfing Titles and continues to dominate the waves as the reigning champion.

The Central Coast based teen will go to Hawaii this month to be mentored by world surfing champion Carissa Moore.

With the Indigenous surfing community growing, so has the demand for classes and programs.

Juraki runs junior surfing competitions each year for aspiring Indigenous surfers and it continues to grow rapidly, with over 60 surfers competing at this year’s Juraki Surf Invitational.

Wadandi Elders at the Undalup Association in Busselton, Western Australia put their heads together with Surfing WA and Josh Palmateer’s Surf Academy to create the Wadandi Surf Academy for young Indigenous people in WA’s South West.

Launching in early November, Wadandi Surf Academy was set up as a pathway program for WA’s Indigenous surfers to connect them with culture and the ocean as well as a way to share First Nations culture with non-Indigenous surfers.

The Academy aims to mentor young surfers early on in their skill development, with former professional surfer Josh Palmateer managing the program’s surfing element.

The Australian Indigenous Surfing Titles will next be held in May and Wadandi Surfing Academy hopes to see more Western Australian surfers competing at Bells Beach.

Victoria is also on board with Indigenous surfing, running its own surfing program through Surfing Victoria for some years.

Surfing Victoria first established the Victorian Indigenous Surfing Program 19 years ago as a way to increase Indigenous participation in surfing.

The program has boomed and now sees about 600 participants each year as well as providing employment opportunities for First Nations Victorians within the surfing industry.

Surfing NSW also runs annual Aboriginal surf camps with Indigenous Engagement Coordinator Mel Leaudais, who has previously hinted at new Indigenous surfing competitions to come in the future.

By Sharnae Watson

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