Anne Beasley Weber and the 11th East Coast Wahine Championship
Originally published in Bootleg Magazine – August 2007
By Brian Tucker
The East Coast Wahine Championship is in it’s 11th year and it returns to Wrightsville Beach. Below is an interview with Anne Beasley Weber.
Were you surprised by the success of the contest or was it something where people have said, why wasn’t something like this started sooner?
For the girls and women that were already doing competitions they were ready. Event founder Tammy Zybura was tired of surfing heats at the end of the day or in bad conditions. She knew the girls needed an outlet to prove their ability.
You and Paula Bushardt took over the contest in its second year. Was it difficult to keep the momentum going with founder Tammy Kennedy having moved away?
Honestly this event has a mind of its own. We have a great crew of volunteers, mainly women from the local surf community, and an amazing group of competitors that just keep the momentum flowing.
Tell us about the new division in this year’s contest.
This year we are introducing an 18 and Under Advanced Shortboard. The past few years there has been some tough competition between the younger girls, and this division will let the best up and coming girls really compete.
The contestant numbers seem to grow each year. What’s the furthest someone had traveled for the contest?
We’ve pretty much had to put a cap on our competitors. We can fill about 175 slots, but that’s all we can do in the time allotted. We’ve had competitors from Hawaii, California, Arizona, Texas, the Bahamas, and Puerto Rico. This year we received an entry from a girl in Santa Cruz, California.
For you personally, what have been the highlights of the contest’s ten-year run?
Overall, it’s been neat to watch the same girls return each year and see how much they have grown and improved.
In terms of the contest, and the spirit behind it, what is imparted the strongest on female surfers?
What comes to my mind is the powerful feeling of so many female surfers in one place. We are different ages; we come from different backgrounds, yet we all share a love for surfing. It’s a positive and contagious energy.
How often are there mother and daughters in the contest?
Every year. Last year we had 10 sets of moms and daughters competing.
What have been some of the challenges of promoting women’s surfing during your career?
The biggest challenge ironically is the surf industry itself. Until more women are working from within, the industry will remain a men’s market. There has always been this fine line for female surfers to not only surf well, but to also look good in their bikinis. The women need to be recognized as athletes first and foremost.
While interning at Surfing magazine, how did the idea for a women’s surfing magazine come about? Was it your idea essentially or did you shepherd the idea to an insert and then to a magazine in its own right?
Surfing Girl used to be an insert in Surfing magazine – it was a yearly swimsuit issue featuring women. One year they used real surfers rather than models and that sort of rolled into the idea of a girls surfing magazine. The stand–alone magazine was tested in several markets first to see if it would sell. It tested very well and actually sold best in North Carolina. I cannot take any credit for the idea, but I was a part of making it happen.
What were some of the challenges of taking Surfing Girl from an insert in Surfing to its own magazine?
I’ve worked on two magazines from their launch – as associate editor of Surfing Girl and editor of Surf Life for Women. I’m sad to say both publications are no longer in print. The challenges are many. For Surf Life it was getting enough advertisers to pay for the actual production and staffing of the magazine. For Surfing Girl the magazine went through too many makeovers and lost readers and advertisers due to their constant change. For both, getting the support from the industry was crucial. It really frustrates me that the level of women’s surfing is at an all time high, and we don’t have a print publication to showcase that talent.
Your time spent as Associate Editor of Surfing Girl helped open the door to promoting women’s surfing far beyond anything previously. Who has inspired you and where do you see women’s surfing headed in the near future?
There has been lots of inspiration along the way. I have had some great bosses like former Star-News sports editor Mike Boaz who gave me my first gig covering local surfing. Terri Craft from Juice magazine is an amazing woman who has done great things in the male dominated action sports industry. Izzy Tihanyi of Surf Diva, Matt Walker of Surfing magazine and his wife Laurin of Eastern Surf Magazine, Sunshine Makarow, former publisher of Surf Life for Women, not so pro surfers like Nicole Grodesky and Colleen Hanley, and the big pros like Heather Clark, Layne Beachley, and Pauline Menczer.
We live in a world where people live longer, long enough that grandparents can possibly surf along with their grand kids?
I surfed with Eve Fletcher at San Onofre, California one day. She’s been surfing for over 45 years and must be pushing 80. Now that is what I call inspiration.
Spirit and energy that comes from surfing affects in many ways. How do you feel it affects women in their lives?
Well I hope I don’t sound too new age, but there’s a deeper connection with women and the ocean. It brings us closer to the planet’s feminine energy and we take that energy into our every day lives. It’s what gives us confidence, strength, and what makes us graceful in the water. I think most men would agree a crowded line-up is more balanced and less tense when there are a handful of women in the mix.
My friend swears by Costa Rica, tries to go every few months. What’s your favorite place to surf?
At this point in my life location isn’t important. Consistent surf, nice weather, and family and friends in the lineup are what really count. Some of my most memorable sessions have been tropical systems in North Carolina and southern hemi’s in California.
With work commitments, how do you fit surfing into your daily life?
Perhaps the question should read, with parental commitments how do you fit surfing into your daily life? Sacrifice and patience.