Female surfing community growing

Ladies of the Lakes 2014 at Pleasant Beach.

Ladies of the Lakes 2014 at Pleasant Beach.

When Lisa Parkes first started surfing the Great Lakes three years ago there were very few female surfers on the waters.
“Back then, I knew of one or two women …,” said Parkes, one of the organizers of the first-ever Ladies of the Lakes event at Pleasant Beach in Port Colborne.
Robin Pacquing had a similar experience when she first started surfing the lakes eight years ago.
“I was one of the very few out there. I remember I met Sonja Burrows and we instantly became friends because we were surfers, and we didn’t know of any other women,” Pacquing, the other event organizer.
The women said the female surfing community has really grown, as more than 30 female surfers and standup paddlers attended the Ladies of the Lakes event.
Parkes said the growth of the female surf community over the years has been helped by social media, surfing becoming more popular on the Great Lakes, and younger women getting into the sport.
Saturday’s event was billed as an all girls surf social for female surfers and SUP (Standup Paddle) surfers of all ages and skill levels getting together to honour and know each other, trade stories and share waves.
Parkes said the idea for the event came about from friends of hers in Florida, where she learned to surf.
“They started Women of the Waves and it’s been running for five years now, and is so successful. It raises funds for the Cocoa Beach Surf Museum,” she said, adding it inspired her to do something for the female surfing community on the Great Lakes.
Parkes approached Pacquing about helping run the event.
“Lisa said she just wanted to get a lot of the girls together since the community here has grown so much. She wanted to have a social paddle and surf and get everyone together in a non-competitive way,” said Pacquing.
Parkes said Ladies of the Lakes may eventually evolve into a fundraiser, but for the first year she wanted to keep it simple.
“It’s just an easy-going day, where we all hang out and surf together,” Parkes said.
The two were happy with the turnout for the day on the beach, which saw waves grow throughout the day.
“We would have been happy with half the amount,” said Pacquing. “We had a lot of sponsors, too. It shows they care for the female surf community.”
Asked why they chose Lake Erie and Pleasant Beach, both women said it’s a beautiful spot.
“I tried to make the event as centrally-located for all the girls I know,” said Parkes, adding Wyldewood Surf Club member Andy Holland offered up his cottage near the beach for the women to use for the day.
She said she has experience surfing the waters of Lake Erie at Pleasant Beach and feels comfortable there.
Pacquing said it’s a good spot for people who know how to surf and for those beginners just getting into the surf scene.
“There’s a lot of historical places where we could have surfed on the lakes, and this is one of them. We figured why not here,” she said.