Surfing as a way of life – The Byron Bay Surf Festival

It’s good to remind myself sometimes that surfing isn’t just about competition and most people who surf do it just for the love of it – the Byron Bay Surf Festival is a celebration of the soul-surfing way of life.

We took a road trip an hour south to Byron to take a look at this event that has become even bigger and better than last years!

This year, the Byron Surf Festival (@byronbaysurffestival) opened with a free outdoor screening of a surf movie about a group of empowering women featuring Ishita Malayvia (@surfishita), the first recognised female surfer in India and our friend Lauren Hill (@theseakin). We got there early to sit in the front row on our blankets with out squishy pillows and who did we see? It was Lauren and her partner Dave Rastovich with their cute, energetic dog Yogi, surrounded by kids who wanted a pat!

The movie was beautifully made and among many important points shows one reason why so few Indian women go to the ocean – they want to stay in doors so they can have fair skin and look after the household for their husbands. Ishita is so different – having so much fun surfing in the sun and waves. Just think, a population of a billion people and she is the first female surfer… absolutely awesome.

We went along the next day to a workshop aimed at exploring more of these issues, hoping to encourage more girls and women throughout the ‘developing’ world to start surfing. Meeting Ishita was so inspiring – I hope I can also help encourage more girls all around the world to learn about the joy of surfing!

Lauren Hill (@theseakin) was also part of the panel discussion and is so inspiring to me because she, like Dave Rastovich, is a sponsored free surfer and has dedicated her life to empowering women and all people live happy, ecological lives. I was lucky enough to stay with her and Dave Rastovich last year and because their lifestyle is like my lifestyle, we had the same kind of point of view. She is always so happy and enthusiastic and is a pleasure to be around.

This year, we could only go for one day but that day was full of meeting old friends and new friends. Another highlight was meeting Tom Carroll and nervously asking for his photo- such an amazing guy, charging massive waves at 50 years old. It was really funny when my friends from my old school all jumped into a canoe a man carved out of wood, and it tipped backwards and forwards until my brother stepped out and landed straight into dog poo. I couldn’t breath I was laughing so hard! Until he wiped it on my leg…Lets just say, Yani isn’t going to do that again. Hahaha!

Before we knew it, it was time to go home… But experiences like these will stay with me and whenever I struggle in competition surfing, I will remember, competition isn’t everything.

Beyond the Surface trailer and website :player.vimeo.com/video/59163560

http://www.beyondthesurfacefilm.com

Lauren’s Blog : http://seakin.wordpress.com/

Byron Bay Surf Fest info: http://www.byronbaysurffestival.com

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