by Catherine Crusade

Calling all wahines and pula kahulas… surf’s up! Come on you salty sisters, it’s time to put your mid-life worries behind and catch a wave, diva style.

What does surfing have to do with mastering a mid-life? As a late boomer—just shy of 46—I was intrigued enough to find out by heading down to the sunny beaches just north of San Diego in La Jolla, California, for a surfing adventure via the Surf Diva Surf School.

Sun, fun, and surf. What more can an aspiring surf diva ask for, except perhaps the company of other aspiring surf divas. After a long, soul-searching solo drive to the sunny climes of the SoCal coast, I was welcomed by nine other women seeking oneness with the wave—my new best friends, my fellow surf sistahs. Inspired and encouraged by our unity, we ventured together into the wonderful world of surfing with the intent to learn a thing or two about catching waves, while having fun in the process. After all, the Surf Diva School motto is “the best surfer out there is the one having the most fun.”

With such an eclectic group of women—from 16 to almost 60 years young—a natural camaraderie developed over the week’s time as the ten of us met for surf class each morning. Afterward, you’d find us chatting away like giddy school girls over lunch as we swapped stories about ourselves. Most lived in the local area, while others traveled from as far away as Georgia and Seattle. And when they weren’t surfing, what were these wonder women up to? Full-time endeavors ran the gambit from surgeon to nanny, but I was quite inspired by Kathleen, who, at 59 plus, is a triathlete, fitness coach and was in better shape then most of us. In surfer lingo, Kathleen would most certainly qualify for the title of Maja, which translates to: tight surfer mom, or in her case, grandmother.

When asked “why surfing and why the Surf Diva school?” answers ranged from wanting to learn to accompany a surfin’ hubby, a desire to reconnect with the sport and most, like me, sought it out for the fun and adventure. We all agreed that a week long clinic designed specifically for women was less intimidating than co-ed classes. By the end of the week, we were, as one of the divas put it, “way less scared” and much more confident. Words of wisdom from the divas: “just do it” and “we came, we saw and we conquered.” And you can too!

Beyond the physicality and adventure of the sport—as well as the connection with “the girls”—I was in it for the Zen of surfing. I am a big believer in coming out of one’s comfort zone and taking on a new challenge in order to renew your self-perspective and boost your confidence.

Rather then mastering the art of hanging ten, I was more intrigued by the notion that surfing, in some way, may teach me a thing or two about hanging on with strength and grace as I maneuver through the twists and turns, and even hormonal ups and downs, accompanied by mid-life. As a late female boomer, who may be able to relate, I’ve got some good news: what ever your mid-life mood du jour, there isn’t much that a day of surfing can’t remedy.

Learning the art of catching waves will release endorphins—those happy making molecules—and before you know it, you will embrace a new attitude au naturale. You will use muscles you forgot about, lighten up and laugh at yourself in the learning process and be reminded that when a wave or a life circumstance knocks you down, you have the girl power to get back up. As an aspiring surf diva, you will realize you can apply the same wisdom to living life as you do to catching a wave: it is much more effective to ride than try to resist, control or over analyze it. By the end of each lesson, you will feel a sense of accomplishment and relief worthy of lunch and a snooze. Surfing is play and it’s work but best of all—for me—it was a real mental vacation. I was engaged in the present moment and all thoughts of work and personal life were relinquished to something greater than myself… perhaps a higher power, but more likely that big wave headed my way.

La Jolla, which translates to “the jewel”, is a gem of a place and home to Surf Diva School, which was launched in 1996 by sisters Izzy and Coco Tihanyi. Izzy shared with me that while growing up ,there were either the “girly girls” or the girls who surfed—who were often considered weird. This motivated her to help women embody both femininity and athletic ability. To achieve this mission, Surf Diva offers a variety of venues for women such as week-long surf clinics in La Jolla and surf camps in La Jolla and Costa Rica, which also include lodging, yoga and massage. If you want to test the waters, co-ed classes are held on a daily basis and co-ed clinics are available on weekends. Private lessons and parties are an option too.

With the guidance of experienced and passionate surfing instructors, you can achieve surf diva status while laying, kneeling or standing on your board, what ever your size, age or fitness level. Carla— our main surf swami—and her co-horts, were very supportive and made the experience safe and fun.

After you hit the beach, stop by the Surf Diva boutique to browse the boards, bathing suits and more. Then head to The Cheese Shop across the street for the best flour-less oatmeal cookie ever—a yummy treat that you earn on the board.

Ok ladies, now that you have the inside scoop on one of the hottest surf schools and spots for women, make no excuses! Put on your big girl panties—or in this case wet suit—grab your board and start paddling sister… Surf’s Up!

Surf Diva School and Boutique

2160 Avenida De La Playa

La Jolla, California 92037

phone: (858) 454-8273

fax: (858) 454-8505

The Cheese Shop

2165 Avenida De La Playa

La Jolla, CA 92037

Phone: (858) 459-3921
br>The Cheese Shop

* * * *


Catherine Crusade is a certified coach and public speaker who resides in N. CA. Catherine’s passion for health/fitness recently led her to complete her first triathlon—she wasn’t the fastest but she wasn’t the slowest. Although Catherine enjoys traveling to exotic spots and the thrill of outdoor adventure, she also gets a natural high when venturing within, and does her best to make return visits as much as possible.