I had the pleasure to discover a little more about Dani, Co-Founder of Surf Senoritas: a growing SURF community which encourages women of all ages to get in the water and have some fun! Read on and learn more about Dani’s amazing journey and experience of sport, outdoors and women’s community.
Tell us a bit about yourself?
I grew up in Rhosneigr, on Anglesey, and over the years I saw it turn into a hot spot for water sports, from surfing to kite boarding. As a child I would spend all my time exploring the beaches and lakes, but I never had anyone who could take me into the sea, nor could I afford the expensive kit to go with it. I would often go into the surf shop just to look at the wetsuits (and smell them, is there any better smell than a new wetsuit!?). I love nature, and I’m happiest out walking somewhere new or out in the sea! I now live in South Wales and work for Surf Therapy Charity The Wave Project.
Were you always involved in sports? How did you get into surfing?
Growing up, I had terrible experiences around sport. I was terrible at it and bullied in school so I was always scared to even try. I would spend hours watching the surfers at home and even got a job waitressing in return for surf lessons (which unfortunately, I never got!). I was a really late starter to surfing, it took until I moved to South Wales and spent some of my student loan on my first board and wetsuit. I had so badly wanted to surf all my life I was desperate to get started with anyone who’d let me tag along.
Unfortunately, I met some boys who promised to teach me, but they left me in the white water to fend for myself. After many freezing sessions of getting battered, with no help what so ever I’d had enough, and set about finding some girls in the same position as me!
Tell us a bit more about Surf Senoritas and how it all started?
Surf Senioritas began as a really small thing. I was looking for girls to surf with and came across the Surf Girl community page. It wasn’t well used so I wasn’t sure I’d find anyone! I put out a message asking for girls in the South Wales area to contact me, as I didn’t know anyone and needed people to surf with! Luckily for me, Carys Boulton and Sarah Twells replied, and we arranged to meet soon after. It was November 2011, my car was iced over I didn’t have any gloves or a hood, but we met at Porthcawl for a dawnie. Luckily Carys and Sarah bought me gloves and hood so I didn’t freeze to death! After that we had a hot chocolate and a chat and realised there must be other girls like us. I got home and made the facebook group, we chose Surf Senioritas just as a silly name for the three of us, with a play on the word ‘Senior’ as we all felt we were too old for this kind of thing! We set out to connect girls all over to surfing friends, and I think that we have been achieving just that ever since. We just wanted to make women more confident in the water. We’ve definitely seen an increase of women in the water since we first started surfing together, we’re not saying we’re the sole reason that this has happened, but we like to think we have helped a little!
After that things sort of snowballed. We didn’t realise just how many other girls were in our position, and before we knew it we weren’t just 3 anymore, we were two thousand women from all over the world.
It’s a place where women can meet other like minded people. We also have exclusive discounts on surf gear and help put together trips to places like Morocco, France and Portugal, as well as UK based places like the Flow Rider.
New to this year, we’ve managed to get sponsorship from Up&Go, Australia’s Number 1 Breakfast Drink. They’ve helped us set up our Seniorita Academies around the UK. The idea is to have a trained girl in each area who can provide regular training sessions to girls in their local area. We’re hoping that having a well known, friendly face at the beach, will mean more women will take up the sport! You can find out more info about this on our blog and facebook pages.
As a Co-Founder of Surf Senoritas what have you learnt from girl power, togetherness and how these work around outdoor sports such as Surfing?
I have learnt that women really do run the world. I think women are generally a lot better than men at supporting one another, and that’s something you see daily on the community group. You can ask any question about surfing, no matter how basic or advanced, and someone will know the answer; not only that, but no one will judge you for asking. We all just want to help each other out. Surfing can be the most frustrating, daunting and scary thing out there. When you first start you second guess everything; is my wetsuit the right suit? Have I got a ‘good’ board? Am I carrying it right? Is everyone looking at me like I’m an idiot because I keep falling over? Because of that, it’s important that we support each other. Girls are often much more scrutinised for appearance, so I think to see a lot of women clad in neoprene, with sea monster hair and panda eyes from running mascara out there just having a great time, that’s really empowering as a woman. You can be free when you’re in the sea.
Because outdoor sports do tend to be more male dominated, it’s equally as important that we can get as many women picking up boards as possible. It doesn’t matter how bad you are, or how many times you fall over, what’s important is that you are out there, having an awesome time, and showing the generations below us that they can do it too. I think only then will we start to see more sports being equally participated in by men and women.
You’d be surprised how often you run into a Seniorita just day to day. As it’s online, we won’t always recognise each other, but I love it when I see a car go by with a Seniorita sticker, or see the flash of pink on someone’s board. You just feel more confident then to paddle over and say hello! It also does feel a bit like we’re in a secret club, don’t tell the boys!
Any tips for any Ladies that are looking to try something new, a challenge, perhaps lack in confidence but would like to get involved in more alternative sports ?
I would advise joining a community like ours! We may be called ‘Surf Senioritas’ but I think we’re more a group for ladies who like to adventure. There’s always someone looking to do something, from a hike up a mountain, to a surf trip abroad. I recently had my first surf trip abroad with a group of Senioritas and I was terrified. However, when I was there, we all had such an amazing time! I’m so glad I pushed myself to do it. Talking to the girls online first definitely helped. You will be anxious meeting new people, and you will have nerves, but it’s important to remember that we all did, and still do. I’m still nervous every time I pick up my board, but I know that that’s ok. I acknowledge the nerves, they’re natural, but I get out into the sea and I feel better.
Just put yourself out there. If you want to go out and do something, do it, no one else is going to do it for you. What’s the worst that’s going to happen? All that IS going to happen, is you’re going to meet some awesome girls and have some great adventures.
You can find out more about us here;