It’s not often that one sees pregnant women shredding the gnar on Santa Cruz’s surf breaks, and the short documentary Introducing the Super Stoked Surf Mamas of Pleasure Point, which screens this week in Santa Cruz, explores why. After all, the pregnant waddle is hard enough—try fitting it into a wetsuit and doing it on a surfboard.
The film tells the story of five badass local women—Mayra Aguilar, Jenny Bennett, Grace Gooch, Katie Loggins, and Ashley Lloyd—who came together through their love of surfing Pleasure Point. When they all got pregnant around the same time, they didn’t feel that they should have to give up surfing. So the group surfed together during and after their pregnancies, some leaving the water at about eight months and returning eight weeks postpartum.
The women stretched their wetsuits over their bellies and went out together in a mommy surf club. They wore specialized “baby on board” neon-pink T-shirts, and were looked after by other surfers—a break from the often competitive and aggressive surf scene at Pleasure Point.
Make no mistake, the women in Super Stoked Surf Mamas have been surfing Pleasure Point for years and are completely comfortable with the swell and breaks, particularly at second point. Their familiarity and confidence in their own bodies and skills allowed them to show that pregnancy doesn’t have to mean a nine-month house arrest.
Directed and produced by Bay Area filmmakers Elizabeth Pepin Silva and Paul Ferraris, the film recently premiered at Europe’s largest surf film festival—held in Anglet, France—where it won the Audience Choice Award, an honor rarely given to a non-French film. In it, the women talk about why pregnancy and surfing don’t have to be mutually exclusive, despite surfing culture’s wary attitude toward motherhood.
“In some ways we, as a society, treat pregnancy like an illness or something that you have to be careful about,” Pepin Silva tells GT. “Women’s bodies are designed to have kids. Women used to work out in the fields, and they’d go into labor, pop the kid out and be back in the field, there was no choice.”
Since the Surf Mamas couldn’t afford constant childcare while they were surfing, they brought their little community together and took turns looking after the children, so each woman could go out and catch some waves while the others babysat. The idea of community-driven childcare isn’t exactly revolutionary, but even today it’s all too rare. The Surf Mamas found a way to adapt to motherhood while also building their community, something that Pepin Silva says may have changed her mind about having kids.
“Surfing is such an integral part of my life, and back then I just couldn’t see a way of balancing motherhood and being pregnant with surfing,” she says. “I didn’t know any women who had been pregnant and had surfed, and that’s one of the many reasons I chose not to have kids. But if I had a group of women like the Surf Mamas, my decision might have been different.”
‘Introducing the Super Stoked Surf Mamas of Pleasure Point’ screens 7-9 p.m. Friday Aug. 24. Santa Cruz Hope Church, 4525 Soquel Ave., Soquel. surfmamas.brownpapertickets.com. $12 adults, $6 children. The film will also be released on Amazon in March 2019 for Women’s History Month.