The 4th Annual Women’s Expression Session took place August 5th, 2017 at Agate Beach, OR. It was a perfect day for the event. The air temperature was a cool 65 degrees; warm enough to wear a tank top, yet cool enough to warm yourself from your post-surf chill by the fire. The water, at 55 degrees, was surprisingly warm for this time of year. Surf consisted of glassy, waist to shoulder high rides. There were both rights and lefts ridden, yet the rights felt a reverberation from Yaquina Head, creating a particularly peaky, yet playful wall of water.
Right away, silly and stoked contestants started to show up, sign up, suit up, and dress up. The beginner heats (which included a lesson) filled up quickly, while the ‘regular’ and grom heats continued to grow throughout the day. In the end, there was a total of 39 women, men, and children surfing in this year’s Expression Session!
To warm the muscles and stoke the soul-fire, the event commenced with a song and dance. Some moves choreographed, others not, people got down to the Song of Freedom by local-rooted singer, Lady Rizo. When the song faded away into the sound of the waves, the horn sounded and the first group of surfers ran for their boards.
Catching the first waves of the day were Where’s Waldo, Zebra, Superfly, Coconut Girl, and DayGlo. Zebra, a bodyboarder from Corvallis, fueled from all the WSL events she’s been watching lately, rode wave after wave after wave, earning her 2nd place overall. Where’s Waldo completed some nice maneuvers (including the use of her cane) that won her ‘Most Creative Maneuver’. All the surfers, in and out of the water, were stoked on the great conditions; by far the best yet for this event!
The second heat consisted of Rainbow Fish, Philamena, Louie Tutu, Casper the Unicorn, Tye Dye, and Mrs. Clause. What an epic heat this was! Louie Tutu didn’t realize how slippery a brand-new Wavestorm could be, and had a couple gnarly wipeouts because of it. Casper the Unicorn was on point, even earning a 10 from the judges on her last wave! No wonder she took 1st place overall. Tye Dye was gracefully cross-stepping her way to the top of heat, but unfortunately had to leave before the awards ceremony. She also attempted a headstand a couple times, but in the end it was Mrs. Clause who completed the inversion successfully!
Golden Girl, Bob Ross, Pink Leisure, 20, Cheetah, Ice Queen, Mike n Ike, and 80s Picasso surfed up a storm in the 3rd heat. They took the advice of surfing hard and catching lots of waves to heart, and on any given wave you could see at least a few of these surfers up and riding. Not only was the surfing off the hook in this heat, but the costumes were exceptional. From this heat came the winner of Most Stylish Costume. Starting out as a blonde bomb-shell with pigtails, and transforming into Bob Ross, equipped with an afro and cut offs, this contestant surely impressed the judges. How he made this transformation mid-heat is still a wonder to me…
The Beginner/Lesson and Bomb Grom heats finished off the event, and included so many courageous individuals. Starting off with a safety talk and surfing demonstration by local surf instructor, Rainbow Fish, and ending with super salty and stoked surfers, this heat was my favorite! Surfers from previous heats stuck around and stepped up so each beginner could have a personal surf coach to help them navigate the waves, wipeouts, and fellow surfers among them. There were also some amazing dads out there pushing their little girls into waves, encouraging fearlessness in the face of white wash and underwater wipeouts. This earned Lila and Selene Bravery Awards, and reminded us all of the grit and audaciousness we are trying to instill in our children, and ourselves.
Special thanks to the The William T. Colville Foundation, who recently funded our grant proposal to get a small fleet of soft top surfboards. This foundation has a mission to ‘nourish resilient networks of self-identified women by providing opportunities that foster personal empowerment and action in community’. It is our hope that through this event, and future surf lessons and camps, we can uphold their values and inspire and encourage others. Big Mahalo also goes out to the volunteers and sponsors that made this event possible; Jack, Johnny, Gabe, Bruce, Briana, Surfrider, Ryan Heim, Kelsea DePhilipes, Graece Gabriel, Casey Felton, Moment Surf Co., ZuhG Life Surf Shop, and Ossie’s Surf Shop.
Keenest Vibe- Pink Cheetah
Most Stylish Costume- From Blonde Bomb Shell to Bob Ross
Sexiest SheMale- Donna Ho!
Gnarliest Wipeout- Golden Girl
Most Creative Manuever- Where’s Waldo?!
Best Beginner- Purplicious Mermaid
Shining Stars- Rainbow Fish, 80’s Picasso, Day-Glo, Love
Overall (based on wave choice, length of ride, most amount of maneuvers, and style points)
1st- Casper the Unicorn
3rd- (tied) Pink Leisure, Philamena
Bravery Awards- Lila, Salene (Celine?)