Nice Niches: Surfs up, for girls

It's filled with adrenaline, is totally exhausting and the average beginner tends to spend more time getting pummelled by waves than gliding across them. But a recent survey by surfing super-brand Roxy has shown that women actually outnumber men by 60%-70% at its surf schools across Britain and Ireland.

This interest from the fairer sex has seen the money involved in the pro-level of the sport increase and in it's wake a host of girl-targeted media and fashion labels have sprung up. This has enabled smaller surf businesses to capitalise on all the extra attention.

One in particular is the Hibiscus Surf School in Newquay, Cornwall. Set up in 2003 by qualified surf instructor, Frances Carter, it's exclusively aimed at girls. This targeting the female market proved a savvy move for Carter.

"For us in particular, the business grew dramatically in the first two or three years. Our overall growth has been 30% since we first started."

The women only focus also helped to open up other revenue streams for Carter, "it made it easy to link the surf school to clothing companies. Brands such as Roxy are sought after by girls and they buy into the surfing lifestyle, she said. "We used to have a link with Roxy, where they helped us with our marketing, but that's stopped now, as Roxy have set up their own surf schools.

Ex professional surfer, Mike Raven who set up The Raven Surf School, based in Bude, Cornwall in 2004 has also noticed the new surfing trend.

"The popularity of women's surfing is increasing because there is more and more money being put into the elite level of women's surfing. This has meant pro women have improved and now attract interest from women who wouldn't have got into the sport before."

The reason for this increase in revenue in the pro-level of the sport is because women are attracting sponsorship from companies who have never been interested in the men's sector.

"There is definitely an attraction from beauty companies that wouldn't have advertised with the men," continues forty-two-year-old, Raven. "They can get involved with the women and get great exposure in female branded surf magazines, such as SurfGirl magazine. "

This fascination towards surfing from women has led Raven to follow the likes of Hibiscus and launch girl-only classes and weekend breaks.

"We've also got ourselves a female instructor as we've seen that girls like to be taught by females," he says. "You may think they'd want a fit surfer-guy teaching them, but in truth, that can actually be quite intimidating for beginners. So we have a female coach that's one of the best in the country."

Another great way that the Raven Surf School appeal to large groups of women is by catering for parties and hen weekends.

"A surfing weekend is great for hen parties as it's something fairly cheap and great fun," say's Raven, before adding. "It's also a brilliant alternative to the gym. Surfing is great for fitness and women are passionate about keeping in shape."


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