This week of female empowerment has us fired up and ready to go—and there's nothing we love more than finding sisters-in-arms who are fighting the good fight.
At first glance, Marta Tomasini might seem like another surfer girl, but a deeper dive into Surfragette, her online home, proves otherwise. Surfragette is a beautiful journal of her European surf life (Tomasini is Italian but based in Biarritz in southern France), but it's also a place where she eloquently comments on the gender gap in the surf world—in fact, the site was created to help her conquer it. We love her enthusiasm for surf culture and the dedication she's proven to have (chilly European waters require major wetsuits!), but mostly we're thrilled that she's using her voice to try to draw attention to conversations that need a little extra light. It was fun to chat with Marta about what surf like is like across the globe, and how Surfragette has become a home for her Euro surf community.
BIKINI: Surf culture isn't as prevalent in Europe as it is in the U.S. and Australia--can you describe what it's like to get into surfing in Italy or France, where you're living now?
MARTA TOMASINI: When I started surfing in Italy, I was one of the few chicks out there in the water. I was going surfing with a bunch of buddies and people looked at us as if we were aliens, or crazy people who wanted to copy American style. To surf in Italy (and in the Mediterranean Sea in general) you must prove your tenacity and patience, since swells come less often than in the ocean. You also have to be brave enough to face the surf in cold weather, since you don't have waves during summer. Yes, Italian surfers are really really passionate and drive miles and miles for just a few surfable waves in the cold. Now, the surf trend is in full swing there, and you can have more surfers in the lineup than waves!
That's why I'm happy I moved to France. Biarritz is where European surf was born in the late ’50s, and the surf culture is very present in local people's everyday lives. We live and breathe surf and waves, and swells are very consistent all year long. It's not the U.S. or Australia, but it's a happy, European version of California, and I love it.
BIKINI: Your site, Surfragette, has a gender equality message. Where does that come from?
MARTA TOMASINI: It does. As I mentioned, when I first started surfing I was one of the few female surfers in the water. So men were taking advantage of the situation, dropping in my waves and not taking me seriously, because surfing was a "manly thing". This pushed me to improve my skills and start a blog where I could share my surf-related experiences with other surfer girls. I called it Surfragette as a hybrid of SUFFRAGETTE (the female movement for gender equality) + SURF. Now I'm happy to say that my readers are both women and men and they're all united by the same passion for this practice. It's become a community, sharing beach-inspired bits of life and surf adventures from all over the world.
BIKINI: How old were you the first time you surfed?
MARTA TOMASINI: The first time I surfed I was 21 years old (six years ago). I had never dreamed of being a mermaid before—I'd actually always been a snow bunny. I grew up in the mountains in Italy, and I've always skied and snowboarded — I still do. But then I had the chance to surf during a trip to Morocco, and from that moment I was hooked.
BIKINI: Have you ever surfed in California or anywhere in the U.S.?
MARTA TOMASINI: Unfortunately I haven't had the chance to surf there yet. But it's next on my surf destination list, of course!
Tomasini, guarded by a wetsuit, surfing the winter waves in Biarritz.
BIKINI: What are some of your fave surf culture touchpoints? How do you stay connected to it while in Biarritz?
MARTA TOMASINI: Well, Biarritz has a quite big surf community, and you can definitely feel the surf culture surrounding you. This thanks to the inspiration coming from California and the Californian surfers who enjoy French breaks on holiday now and then. I also love to watch classic longboard videos and read books about the golden era of surfing, which are definitely influenceing our modern surf life.
BIKINI: Tell us about your favorite Euro surf spots.
MARTA TOMASINI: Biarritz, of course! Moving here was a dream come true. In Italy my boyfriend and I used to dream about perfect peeler waves and being able to surf whenever we wanted. Coming here was also a good compromise: You don't have Californian weather, but we're closer to home and our families and the food is so good!