One of the first things I did upon moving to Fernandina was try to find other girls and women in the line-up. I kept hearing something about a “surfing science teacher” and finally met Angie at a local ESA contest. We never ran into each other because Angie’s looking for high performance waves on her shortboard (She got 1st place in Sage Sisters Shortboard at the 2014 Sisters of the Sea Contest) and I’m usually looking for something a little more casual for my log. Thankfully, there are some days when we’ll end up surfing the same spot and I eventually came to know that not only is she currently ripping, but that she has been for quite some time. Anyone else ever consider Lisa Anderson competition?
I admire Angie both for her dedication and humbleness to surfing and for her willingness to work so hard at improving our community. If Angie believes in something, she gives it 110%, whether it’s directing the local ESA district, organizing a community garden group or training lifeguards in Nicaragua (instead of surfing Popoyo all day).
You grew up in California, when did you first start surfing?
I started surfing during an El Nino year around 1981-1983 in Santa Barbara, Ca. There was a lot of consistent surf and it was consistently big, very much like this past year California just experienced. Myself and my friends gained a lot of experience surfing in a very short period of time.
Do you remember your first board? First wave?
Yes, I had an old 7 ft classic single fin made in the seventies. But, pretty quickly I was sponsored by a man named John Bradberry and he made me a 5’2 twin fin! I do not remember my first wave, but amazingly I took surfing as a PE class at a very small alternative middle school. I took the class because all the cute boys were in that class. 🙂 I was afraid of the ocean, and honestly, I still am!
In the mid-eighties, you were a finalist in the West Coast Surfing Championship and the US Surfing Championship. You were also on the Channel Islands Surf Team, can you tell us about that?
Surfed in the WSA (Western Surfing Association) for many years. I eventually rode for Channel Islands Surfboards and Victory Wetsuits. I was lucky to have very supportive parents that let me go to contests all up and down the California coast. Three weekends a month we were on the road. I was on the WSA All-star team for several years and placed 2nd at the West Coast Championships and 3rd at the US Championships when I was 15. I traveled to Hawaii and Florida for United States Championships.
Kim Mearing was the Women’s World Champ in 1983, followed by Frieda Zamba from 1984 to 1986 (Zamba won again in 1988), did you ever compete against either of them?
I surfed with Kim all the time growing up because we were from the same city (Santa Barbara) and surfed the same breaks. She was not in my age division as an amateur and I think she turned pro when I was about 13-14 years old. I did surf the local pro-am competitions, like the Rincon Classic with her, and I did beat her at least once! Lisa Anderson was my true rival. She moved out to Huntington Beach, Ca. from Florida at the age of 14 or 15 and we hung out and competed against each other. She went on to become 5 time world champion! I have old surfing magazines with contest results showing that I beat her as an amateur, which I am really proud of!
You recently stepped up to be the Director for the First Coast District of the Eastern Surfing Association (Thank you!), are you excited about this position and what are your plans for this next season?
I will run the contests similar to how the district has been run in the past. We like to hold all the contests during our season of warm water and waves which is between August and November. We will have a group of 4 scheduled contests and then call a few more when the surf forecast looks good! I am super excited about this season, we have a great group of young surfers who have just joined the ESA and have really great energy! We are seeing more girls interested, and that is great. There also seems to be a lot of parents that are very supportive and I am excited to have them participate in the district operations. Surf Asylum will be helping us with some surfing workshops to help competitors be more successful. They will be held in the spring and summer, so stay tuned!
Outside of surfing you have an interest in edible gardening and are the President of a new non-profit in Fernandina, The Island Gardening Project. Tell us a little bit about how you got started with gardening and what the mission of the IGP is.
I love gardening and I also want to eat food that is natural, safe, and nutritious. I do not like to buy much food from the super markets, I mainly shop at the farmer’s market. I would like to be able to produce food for myself, family, and friends. Luckily there are many people in the community who feel the same way and are passionate about the ability of communities to be able to feed themselves. We have a great group of people in the IPG. We just started our first project at the Elm Street Community Center, where we will have a garden to share with the community.
As a lifeguard, swim coach and water safety instructor, you’re obviously passionate about safety around water. What was it like volunteering for Lifeguards Without Borders in Nicaragua last year?
It was such a great experience, and I am leaving again March 30th, 2015 for Nicaragua. We work with the Nicaraguan Red Cross by bringing them equipment, training their guards, and working with them to guard the beaches during the busiest holiday in the country.
I run the Amelia Island Lifesaving Assc. and working with Lifeguards Without Borders and The International Surf and Lifesaving Assc. has really inspired me to work towards lowering the rate of drowning in our community. Amelia Island has on average of at least one drowning a year. I recently received a grant from Lifeguards Without Borders to sponsor free swim lessons for the community this summer. The grant also covers free water safety clinics at Main Beach for tourists once a week all summer. But, my favorite part of the grant is that we will be able to sponsor a few kids who would like to be on the Stingray’s Swim Team but could not otherwise afford it.
One time you told me a story that you hadn’t done much surfing after moving to Florida and that it was your high school science students who encouraged you to get back in the water. How long had it been since you had surfed regularly? Did you find it challenging?
I did not do much surfing from the time I was 22 to about 32 years old! When I started teaching high school and talked to my students about my amateur surfing career they could not believe I was not surfing. So I jumped back in the water with them and have been surfing ever since. I got back into surfing contests and that is when I got involved with the ESA. I surfed many local contests, and a couple of Southeast Regionals, and a couple of Eastern Surfing Championships. It was a challenge to get back in good enough physical condition to enjoy surfing again. But once I did my surfing felt great and I feel like I am surfing better then ever. Staying in shape is key to surfing and staying young. Lucky, I became an ocean rescue lifeguard around the same time I started surfing again and that helped a lot.
Your daughter, Mary, is an avid surfer; do you ever offer her advice or tips on surfing?
I have helped her become comfortable in the ocean, mostly through being her junior lifeguard instructor for many years. She has decided she loves to longboard and is not interested in short boarding. I do not have much experience surfing longboards so at this point she is looking up to surfers like you Betsy! Kevin Leary has helped her a lot and other local surfers who have enjoyed watching her become a longboarder. She just had her first custom longboard made for her by ROZO and was able to paint it herself!
How has surfing influenced your life?
My love for surfing has kept me in the ocean, kept me motivated to stay in shape, and helped me have a sense of community here on the Island.