Candra Jordan: The Future of Surfing is Female

By Sarah Kim Bonner

“If you’re not willing to wear the tiny bikini, there are less opportunities,” says Candra Jordan, one of America’s top longboard surfers. “I avoid brands that I feel might want me to do that—might only want my body— that’s not who I am,” Jordan explains.

The image of the “surfer girl” has specifically been the bikini-clad, thin, tanned, flawless female but Jordan says that the sport is changing, albeit slowly. “More brands are emerging that want to support women for more than pretty faces but,” Jordan says, “I’ve missed out.”

Candra

It was only in 2018 that the governing body of surfing, the World Surf League, instituted equal pay for men and women in competition; despite positive changes from the WSL, the commercial industry hasn’t caught up and female surfers have started to speak out. Anna Blanchard called out Rip Curl in 2020 when they ended a fifteen year sponsorship after she fell pregnant. Elizabeth Sneed started the Curvy Girl Surfer Instagram account promoting body positivity with the manifesto to “expand the image of the surfer girl.” And Jordan, regardless of the difficulties it brings, chooses only to partner with brands that want her for her.

The change needed is not just commercial, it’s cultural too, Jordan adds. Jordan might be one of the top athletes in her sport, but she is still very much aware she is a woman in a male dominated space. “It is intimidating being a woman in the ocean. Being fairly talented, you want to surf at the best places, the best tide, the best waves, but in those areas, there are mostly men. I’m often the only women in the water, and it takes me a minute… I get nervous and feel like I need to get a good wave to prove I can surf but you still feel it,” Jordan says.

But change in the water is happening Jordan says.

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“In last few years, I see more women in the water, especially since Covid. There are more women trying and learning, taking lessons and getting in the ocean.” Jordan is a coach herself and says coaching women is especially inspiring. “Watching people come out of their shell and find their own confidence in the ocean is really rewarding. The light on their face when they do something for the first time, it is instant gratification. It’s like I’m doing it for the first time,” Jordan beams. Giving women the confidence to get in the water and into the sport of surfing keeps Jordan optimistic about the future and gives her the confidence to stand for the changes the sport needs.

Whether it’s learning to surf or standing up for gender equality, “when you can overcome something challenging,” Jordan says, “you realize you’re just capable of so much—it’s mind blowing.”

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