Bay Area’s Only Women’s Surf Competition

By Aylana Zanville, founder of Ola Chica swimwear and director of WOW

California female surfers, from beginners to expert, deserve a day to celebrate and showcase their talent in the water. Women on Waves Surf Contest (WOW)-, is a biannual amateur longboard surf event that highlights and celebrates the talent and athleticism of local women in the Santa Cruz County. It is the only contest of its kind in the area. Not only is WOW a great competition, it is also a fundraising event that benefits local women-focused non-profit organizations in the Santa Cruz County. This unique surf contest draws spectators from all over the area to watch and cheer the female surfers.

WOW provides women and girls a chance to compete and have fun on an even playing field, in a festival like atmosphere, with tons of camaraderie and support from the community. This contest encourages young women to get out there and go for it, while also teaching them the value of giving back.

The West Wind Surf Club and Zeuf Hesson, a legendary local female surfer, founded Women On Waves in 1996. WOW continued to grow over the years with the support of numerous volunteers from the surfing community including Toni Castro, from the Capitola Chamber of Commerce, Sally Smith, founder of Paradise Surf Shop and Marisol Godinez, along with Mermaid Series.

In 2018 Ola Chica Surf Company took over production of the contest and is looking forward to bringing it back in 2020.

“This contest was a great way to bring coast side women together back when it started. I met some of my best friend through WOW. Also the older women were so inspiring watching them rip,” said Asi Ghiassi.

Women on Waves is the one and only all women’s surf event in our area. It is crucial that we are able to hold this event in order to support our female surfing community. Now, more than ever before in history, women in surfing are finally receiving equality and I want to encourage future female surfers to pursue their dreams by participating in WOW. This is one of the most positive surf events I’ve ever experienced and given its history; I am shocked that we need to fight for it.

“This was the first contest my then 5-year-old daughter and 7-year-old son got to watch mom surf in. The best part was that we were all moms out in the water at one point with our kiddos on shore watching us. It was the best feeling and all of our hearts were full. This contest is not much of a contest but rather a gathering of like-minded women who share the same passion for the sport of surfing. To be able to include our families and closest friends and all the aloha that comes with being in and around the ocean is a joyous day! My kiddos keep asking when we will do it again…let’s keep it going WOW! Side note…my kiddos also got to see mom take first place,” said Jessica Cassidy.

I am very passionate about bringing WOW back on a permanent biannual basis, but as much as the female surfing community and I want WOW to happen, we are encountering hesitation with the City of Capitola. Due to a high number of events in the city and ensuing resident complaints, the City of Capitola has limited the number of permits they will issue.

WOW Kids

Why Capitola?

Capitola is the ideal location for both viewing the event, and for novice participants who are leery of the more rocky areas of Pleasure Point or Steamer Lane. It is important that WOW is held in a safe place where everyone feels comfortable in the ocean. Simply put, Capitola is user friendly and provides a perfect place for competitors and audience alike to enjoy the beauty of women surfing.

How can you help?

There are three ways you can help:

  1. Join us on March 12th, at the Capitola City Council meeting (check backat https://www.womenonwavessurfcontest.comfor the exact date & time) With enough representation and testimonials from previous events we can create change and secure approval for a WOW 2020 date.
  2. Email and tell them why you believe in WOW and want it to happen in 2020. Your voice really does matter. It doesn’t need to be a long letter, just enough to tell the Council Members how much you care about WOW.
  3. POST! Let’s make noise on social media. Follow WOW on Instagram or FaceBook and share our photos – tell your story to your friends and ask them to share to.

We need your help to keep this amazing contest alive in 2020 at Capitola!

Are you in? For more info email: