Vicki Arkoff meets Eli Stone star Natasha Henstridge and finds out where to hang ten at an all-girl surf camp.
“I love the outdoors. I’m not a big gym person,” says Natasha, the former teen model from Newfoundland, Canada who moved to Paris at 14, then Los Angeles to catwalk her way into a Hollywood acting career. “Since California offers so many great options I’d much rather be outside bodysurfing, surfing and boogie boarding. I have two boys and they have a blast, even when the huge waves pummel them. They just get back up and do it again. Being in touch with nature, being in the ocean, and breathing fresh air is such a luxury in L.A. I used to go to the beach and think ‘How can surfers stand to just sit out there on their boards all day? Who are these people?’ And then you try it yourself and you find out it’s all about waiting for that perfect wave. It’s exhilarating!”
How to Hang Ten in One Day (Or at Least Look Like You Can).
To give surfing a whirl yourself, Gidget-wannabes first need to get outfitted. Rather than go for less-than-flattering board shorts or boxy wet suits at the standard men’s boarding houses, try Rock’er Board Shop (12204 Venice Blvd., Mar Vista, 310-397-8300), the city’s best female owned and staffed shop stocked with a great array of boards, accessories and surf wear just for women, including lines such as Grind Queen.
Once you’re suited up, there are dozens of surf instructors out there, but only a few with No Boys Allowed policies. The all-girl Perfect Day Surf Camp, 310-985-1458, or email your questions in Manhattan Beach and Redondo Beach offers week-long summer camps for ages 6-16, and year-round surf workshops every Sunday for women 16-106 in a friendly, safe, non-competitive environment, with one instructor for every four students. They even offer Mommy & Me classes with daycare provided on the beach for non-swimming tikes. Instructor Cybil Oechsle (a competitor on the WSA circuit) gives two-hour lessons for $75, or three for $60 each. “It’s all about having fun,” she says. “If you can stand up on the ground, you can stand up on a board! One day we had a 16-year-old and her mom and her mom, and they were all surfing by the end of their first lesson.” Sponsored by Roxy and Quicksilver, it includes a fashion tee to keep, a board and wetsuit to borrow. Workshops also teach ocean safety and sometimes feature special guest instructors such as Rebecca Heller, author of “Surf Like a Girl.”
Thanks to its picturesque location, Malibu’s beaches – including Surfriders, Topanga and Point Dume – get all the movie star glory, but Huntington Beach is the big Kahuna of California surfing. Jan and Dean didn’t call it “Surf City” for nothing. It’s home to more than 30 California surfing events each year, including the biggest surfing event in the world, the US Open of Surfing, and tends to have cleaner water so it’s a magical choice.
HB is in OC (Orange County, directly south of L.A. County), and it’s filled with surf shops. HSS Girl (126 Main Street, Huntington Beach, 714-841-4000), features clothing, accessories and shoes from top surf/skate lifestyle brands like Roxy, Volcom, Paul Frank, Hurley and O’Neill as does HB Wahini (301 Main Street, Suite 102, Huntington Beach, 714-969-9399) which also specializes in girl gear, especially for teens. They also feature an all-girl surfing school that combines two or five-day surfing lessons with environment education and preservation. Get good enough and you can join HB Wahine’s All Girls Surf Club.
Head all the way down the Cali coast to San Diego for the holy grail of female surfing – Surf Diva Surf School at 2160 Avenida de la Playa, La Jolla on 858 454 8273. It was established in 1996 by twin sisters Izzy and Coco Tihanyi and considered the best female surf school in the world. The boutique has Pray For Surf undies – and they also put on cool bachelorette parties complete with wetsuits, surfboard instruction, boards and a picnic lunch.