“If you can’t see it, you can’t be it.”
Textured Waves — the collective made up of co-founders Chelsea Woody, Danielle Black Lyons, Gigi Lucas, and Martina Duran — believe there should be no barriers to surfing.
The all-Black, all-female collective has already made an immense mark on giving voice to, and increasing the visibility of, people of diverse backgrounds in the lineup. Since founding, they’ve created films, photography and surf wear collections that center Black and Brown women with various brands to open the door for other women of color through representation.
“It is our mission to diversify the outdoors through exposure and curate experiences for our community that they traditionally may not have access to,” says co-founder Danielle Black Lyons.
They recently announced their 2nd annual ‘CoWash’ Surf Retreat to spotlight surfing and sisterly camaraderie. The event, held at the Sheraton Waikiki-Marriott on Waikiki Beach in Oahu from September 2nd to the 6th, seeks to give women of color the surf experience of a lifetime. The itinerary includes surf lessons by Ohana Surf Project, evening group surfs, surf skin and hair care workshops provided by SunBum and yoga sessions.
“Within the natural hair movement of the African American community, co-washing is a term used to describe any technique that gently cleanses the hair while simultaneously nourishing it. We like to think of this retreat as a ‘CoWash’ for the mind and body. Our retreat will condition the soul while removing any impurities that are no longer serving it,” says co-founder Martina Duran.
“We aim to inspire a new generation of surfers through community, knowledge sharing and wave riding. Last year our attendees really took sentimental value in hearing and learning from local Hawaiian surfers and leaders in Honolulu,” adds co-founder Chelsea Woody.
According to an article in Surfer Today, 23 million people surf worldwide, around 2.8 million of them in the United States.
There are no figures on how many are Black. But of the 261 female athletes on the Women’s Qualifying Series in the World Surf League (WSL), only a handful are nonwhite, including Anali Gomez of Peru, Bahia Frediani from Guadeloupe, who surfs for France and Rosanny Alvarez from Venezuela.
Textured Waves is among a growing number of women of color promoting surfing as a recreational and professional sport for Black women and girls. Others include SurfearNEGRA, Black Girls Surf and Brown Girls Surf.
“The ocean is so spiritual for all of us,” Black Lyons told Vogue in 2020.
She continues, “The ocean is a source of trauma for some—a lot of my ancestors lost their lives coming here—but it is also a source of healing in [African American] culture. Southern Baptists use the ocean when we perform baptisms. It’s this dual thing. What we are trying to do is reclaim the healing powers of the ocean in our culture. Before the slave trade, our communities lived along the coast and enjoyed the sea.”