Dae Blo Gels // Day for the Girls Learning to Surf in Vanuatu
29th June 2015
(Written by Sam Suendermann for the Vanuatu Surfing Association)
In the small coastal village of Pango, Vanuatu the sport of surfing has slowly worked its way into the lives of the local villagers. Onshore or offshore, rain or sunshine there will always be surfers patiently bobbing in the lineup waiting for that one perfect wave. However the villagers who take to the waves are almost always men.
Nineteen year old Resmah Kalotiti, female Longboard champion at the 2014 Melanesian Cup and one of the few women who constantly challenges the gender ratio and her sister twenty-one year old Risu Kalotiti are determined to give the young girls of Pango Village an equal opportunity to surf.
Aided with the support of The Vanuatu Surf Association the first ‘Dae blo gels’ or ‘Day for the girls’ was run on the local province’s public holiday. As surfing is only possible on the high tide the girls gathered early in the morning, many having to wake up extra early to complete their chores before they were allowed down onto the beach.
After a quick warm up run by Risu the girls were coached through the pop up technique and given boards to take out into the water. The initial small group began to grow as girls came from all corners of the beach to try surfing for the first time. There was lots of screaming, laughter and beaming smiles as each girl popped up to their feet for the first time. Unfortunately the low tide approached too fast and as the rocks began to emerge the girls rode their last few waves in.
Back on the beach Risu talked to the girls about the importance of looking after and respecting the ocean and environment and encouraged the girls to collect all of the rubbish washed up along the shore. As many of the young girls and boys of Vanuatu enjoy eating sweets and unhealthy food there was a small talk about the significance of eating healthy foods and the benefit that it can bring to your body, especially being an active surfer.
The girls were given fruits and vegetables for lunch and were entertained in the afternoon with creative drawing activities and beach games.
With the enthusiasm for surfing still on high the girls decided to come back to try surfing on the afternoon’s high tide.
Right on 4 pm there was a sudden trample of feet and screams as the girls came back from their respective houses to go back out into the waves and continue their newfound love of surfing.
Two weeks on from the initial ‘Dae blo gels’ there has been a steady change in the ratio of males to females in the water.
When there are no school, church or household obligations the beach of Pango has many more young girls in the water, squealing with glee as they ride the small inside break.
Another similar girl surf workshop was run, the first one saw 30 girls and the latest one had 49 girls turn up to surf the waves and with the help of Wan Smol Bag, a local NGO, the girls were also put through water confidence and swimming lessons.
With the continued guidance of local female surfers Resmah and Risu and the Vanuatu Surfing Association the future of women’s surfing in Pango Village and Vanuatu are in safe hands.