The first time I surfed in Malibu at 17, I got out of the water, frustrated by all the people stealing the right of way.
In surf terms, these people are called snakes. They deliberately paddle inside another surfer to steal wave priority. I lasted less than an hour and chose to sit on the sand instead of trying to ride some of the beautiful waves.
I’ve never tried to surf Malibu again, but often have come to marvel at its waves.
On a recent Saturday, hundreds of people gathered for the Queen of the Point, an all-female longboard surf competition at Malibu’s First Point beach. Longboarders flock to the beach for its right-hand point waves. First Point is hailed as one of the best breaks in the world.
By 11a.m., the crowd was buzzing with competitors, their families and friends, and judges as 30 young Latinas gathered under a blue canopy were getting excited for the day’s events sponsored by El Barrio Athletic Club and Los Courage Camps, groups led by founder Giselle Carrillo aimed to inspire the Latinx community with the ocean and outdoor activities. She wants to empower the community in the water and give Latinas an avenue to try surfing.
Carrillo has a vibrant and positive personality. She is an easy person with whom to talk. It’s easy to see how the young Latinas who were with her for the day flocked to her as she led them into the water and plucked out a string of seaweed for everyone to observe. Then she gave pointers on how to interact with breaking waves and lined them up on the shore for a surf lesson.
At 2 p.m. the competition took a one-hour break to clear the water for Carrillo’s girls to surf. Competitors and bystanders even offered their expertise during the hour. It was a show of respect, providing this sort of platform for beginners.
There is no time other than during a break in competition that the water could be cleared in this way. On any other day the water would be a mix of people wanting to share the space.
It was a special sight.
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