Stab Magazine | Expanding The Presence Of Women's Surfing Worldwide With Laura Enever

Expanding The Presence Of Women’s Surfing Worldwide With Laura Enever

“Know the Feeling” heads to Sri Lanka. “In Sri Lanka there’s like one girl that surfs, that’s Natasha,” says Laura.

style // May 31, 2019
Words by stab
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Finding a second act after tour life ends can be a struggle for some. Not Laura Enever. She’s always handled herself with style and grace, and with more time on her hands these days, as she sets out on her next journey it appears she’s got things pretty damn wired.

From 2011 through 2017, Enever was a fixture on the CT, but after failing to make the cut in 2018 she decided to expand her horizons. Billabong backed her play. Comfortable in front of the camera, her new video series, “Know The Feeling,” details her travels around the world in an Anthony Bourdain, woman-on-the-street style. Not just surf tripping, she’s making a point to hang out with and get to know the women in the far-flung locations she visits. 

In Laura’s latest installment, she heads to Sri Lanka to meet with Natasha Sand and her friends in the wave-rich subcontinental surf zone. In terms of a surf destination, Sri Lanka’s on the up. It’s got some great sneaky spots, is affordable and still a little rough around the edges (just don’t order extra spice in your curry). And while Enever and company stress that there are no laws or overbearing cultural customs prohibiting women from riding waves, girls aren’t exactly encouraged to paddle out either. Natasha’s on the frontlines and seeks to change this. An elegant surfer herself, she shares her story and home with Enever in a very real way—and a rarity in “branded” content these days.

We caught up with Laura on her and Billabong Womens’ “Know the Feeling” project. Scroll south! 

DSC 3390

Laura and Natasha might have different skill levels, but they’re riding the same wave of female progression in surfing.

Stab: Hey Laura, we saw the first episode of “Know the Feeling” and were super impressed. The whole thing is very… powerful. Can you tell our readers a little bit about it?

Laura: Yeah it’s pretty cool, hey? The web series is kinda travel-show style, and it’s all about the places we go and the people we meet along the way, but mainly the women. It was really cool for me to go to places that I wouldn’t necessarily have seen otherwise – mainly China – and meet the female surfers in each location. They just have such different surfing experiences to myself.

And the campaign that’s come out is so amazing. I think the first time I watched it I got shivers – it just feels so powerful and real and honest, which is what we wanted it to be.

That definitely comes through in the Sri Lanka piece. So, was this series your idea?

Billabong came to me with the idea and I was immediately on board. I think now that I’m not competing as much, it resonated with me so much to travel and meet these girls and shine a light on diverse women of the world. I wanted to show the different cultures, stories, and beliefs that are prevalent across the world, along with how much of a connection we have through the ocean and surfing.

In Sri Lanka there’s like one girl that surfs, that’s Natasha, and all the girls we went to meet up with were amazing. They all have their own amazing stories about how they didn’t have anyone before them surfing and they just went out and did it because they wanted to. They’ve had people tell them they shouldn’t surf, that it’s not what they should be doing, that their skin’s gonna become too dark and they won’t be able to get married – all these wild stories that were sad but also inspiring to see how they’ve overcome them.

They’ve started a wave of women surfers in their countries. 

DSC 1768

Meet Natasha, Sri Lanka’s only consistent female slider.

Why is it important that women expand their presence in surfing?

I feel like “Know the Feeling” is powerful in the sense that it touches on topics that aren’t typically talked about in surfing. There are so many places where women wouldn’t even be allowed to go surfing. Some of these girls have just been so strong and strong-minded, going against the rules that have been laid out before them. They’re just going surfing because they love it and they want to, and they want to make it more normal for other girl surfers in their country to go out and do it too. But they’re proving they can break away from the normal and just go do something that they love – being in the ocean and enjoying it.

When we started working on the project we were writing down all the places we wanted to go. I think we still want to go to more regions and find some girl surfers in Russia, India, different countries in Asia, and other places where women’s surfing is limited. These women are trying to forge a path for future female surfers, and I think that’s worth highlighting.

Where have you gone thus far for the series?

We’ve already been to China, Sri Lanka, and Morocco. So they’re gonna be the first three episodes to come out. We went to Marrakesh in Morocco, in China we met some amazing artists and I got a tattoo. We met some really cool girls along the way who are just doing what they love.

Another aspect of growth in female surfing is the WSL providing gender pay parity in 2019. With that in mind, if you were offered a spot on Tour right now, would you take it? Or are you happier on your current path?

Maybe if they asked me in a couple of years I would take it, but right now I feel like I’m on my own sort of journey and I’m absolutely loving it. I’ve been traveling to all of these unique places and learning so much about their cultures and myself and the world. I’ve also got my own project that I’ve been working on, Undone, which is my main focus right now. I miss all the girls on Tour, and I still love watching them, but I feel like I needed to go do something different in this period. The door’s definitely not closed for competing, but I’m loving what I’m doing right now.


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