I grew up in East York, right near Woodbine Beach. I have loved being in the water for as long as I can remember, splashing around my grandmother’s cottage on Lake Superior. Swimming is like being home; no matter where I am.
About 2 years ago, I learned to surf on the west coast of Ireland (I was living in Dublin at the time). I instantly loved it and couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought of trying it earlier. I continued to surf very often for those two years until I moved back to Toronto this spring. It was so great to be back, but there was just this one thing missing: SURFING.
So I looked around, found some Facebook groups and then stumbled upon She Shreds!
What a great feeling it was to learn that there was just as vibrant (if a little less conspicuous) a surf community here waiting to be discovered right at my doorstep. This whole other world was just down the street from where I grew up!
She Shreds opened with a lovely morning on Cherry Beach doing some gentle, friendly yoga with some other women who were either a part of or, like me, hoping to become a part of Toronto’s surf scene. The yoga was great, with lots of important joint work and even some fun partnering up to do some balance work, which was how I met my first new surf buddy of the weekend!
After yoga, the main socializing began! The vibe was smiley and friendly and it was so great to meet some people and chat. There were people who surfed, people who mainly SUPed and people who had never done either, so it was really a great mix. We chatted over coffee and tea brought in by Brothers Coffee and then started in on the beach cleanup, which was another great opportunity to buddy up and have a good chat.
I hadn’t brought my wetsuit or a change of clothes with me because the other events were full, but it looked like there were going to be a couple no-shows, so next up, I raced home on my bicycle and picked up some stuff, then raced back just in time for some SUP yoga, which I’d never done before.
Our instructor, Jenifer, was warm and genuine and really just set up the perfect happy calm for the class. Only having been on a paddleboard 3 times previously, I did better than I thought and really enjoyed it! I even managed to both lose and then rescue my anchoring weight during the course of the class (luckily, I did the class in a wetsuit!). We shared some dreams with one another at the end of the class at Jen’s encouragement and it was an all-around nice end to a great day at the beach!
The next day’s She Shreds activities were at the Surf the Greats shop, to which I’d never been before. It started with a special ‘Animal Flow’ class that Surf the Greats founder Antonio has been developing. I didn’t really know what to expect, but it ended up being a really good class full of helpful strength and balance training, all perfect for surfing! I thoroughly enjoyed the class and Antonio was another sincere and welcoming instructor.
Smoothies and tea or coffee from the cafe was flowing throughout the day’s activities and just added to the coziness of relaxing in the shop. I stayed for both the wave forecasting and the board basics seminars, which were both just packed with such amazing and useful information, it was so fantastic!
We learned all about the different surf spots nearby, the amount of wind and fetch necessary for waves at those spots, along with where to find that info, and even got the low-down on the little bit of localism that may possibly be encountered at one of the spots. I’m someone who already knew something about wind and fetch and such, but the amount of information we got out of the workshop was really substantial. This seminar, specifically, really spoke to Antonio’s passion for nurturing the surf community here. It was some genuine and welcoming knowledge-sharing that was greatly appreciated.
The last activity, a seminar given by the in-house Surf the Greats board shaper Haynes of Whit Surf was also pretty awesome! He was another person exuding passion for what he was doing and I was grateful for the opportunity to go into his studio, look at the board he was working on and even see a few blanks, which I’d never seen before. I’ve been told a lot of odds and ends about surfboards and how they work, but the info provided here was really concise and I feel like I learned a lot about board shaping and how it pertains to specific skills and conditions.
Overall, it was really great to be able to meet, chill and chat with this bunch of new people with such a fun thing in common. It really felt like a weekend of sharing and community, which I think was the goal, so good job, guys! All the organizers were so friendly and it was great to be able to ask them all questions as the weekend unfolded. The fact that the weekend was sponsored by MEC Outdoor Nation and Rip Curl didn’t hurt either; we all went home with some pretty sweet swag! It was a great event and the fact that it was geared toward getting more women on board (pun intended) was a welcome bonus!
I, for one, can’t wait to continue getting to know and surf with the Toronto surf community on our lovely Great Lakes and I’m sure I’ll see lots of the people I met at She Shreds again soon.
Maybe on the next wave!