PUBLISHED: 10:19 15 September 2015 | UPDATED: 13:02 30 August 2017

Corinne Evans_SS15Barbados_018

Corinne Evans_SS15Barbados_018

Newquay surfer and model Corinne Evans overcame her nervousness to make her way in a male-dominated sport and become a pro

Newquay surfer and model Corinne Evans overcame her nervousness to make her way in a male-dominated sport and become a pro. She tells GARETH REES why her primary goal in life is to get women into surfing.

A decade ago, for a teenage girl still learning to surf, the sight of more than a dozen men in wetsuits riding longboards off Newquay’s Fistral Beach, dominating the waves, was daunting. In 2015, Newquay girl and pro surfer Corinne Evans’ daily surf sessions are a very different experience.

The participation in women’s surfing has increased dramatically since I was a teenager, and by that happening it’s been a natural progression that men are very accepting of women in the water now,’ says the 27-year-old Evans.

When Evans first learned to surf with a longboard in her mid-teens, there weren’t many female surfers in Newquay and she recalls being nervous and self-conscious. I didn’t really want to go in as much as I should have, because I was intimidated by the number of men in the water,’ she says. That’s not to say that they weren’t welcoming or anything, it’s more the fact that I was quite nervous. Now it doesn’t bother me. Last night I was surfing and there were six or seven girls in the line-up, and it was great.’

Corinne Evans moved to Newquay when she was 13 and took up bodyboarding, before signing up for her first surfing lessons when she was 15.

I remember being quite young at Fistral and seeing a girl come out of the surf with a longboard – it must have been in the summer because she was in a bikini – and I remember thinking, wow, that looks amazing, she looks like she’s had the best time,’ says Evans. I wanted to be that girl. I wanted to do that.’

It was another female surfer and the coach at the local surf club, Jo Hillman, who continued to encourage and inspire Evans’ love for the sport. She was a real inspiration, because there weren’t many women surfing at the time and she was always there at the surf school helping out. It was really nice to be taught by a woman.’

It was Hillman who pushed Evans into her first “little green wave”.

I didn’t really do much, but I kept going and went right up to the beach,’ says Evans. That was when I was about 17, at Fistral Beach. It was an amazing feeling. It was one of those things, after I had that wave, I knew I wanted more and I wanted to get better, I was hooked from then on.’

After completing the Surf Academy course at Treviglas Community College in Newquay, where she studied the business side of the surf industry, Evans travelled, surfed and did a few modelling jobs. Then, having contacted as many surf companies as she could, sending them a portfolio of her surf and modelling shots and offering to “do anything” to win their backing, Evans signed with surf brand Fox in 2010, at the age of 22. Shortly afterwards, she signed with action sports and lifestyle brand Animal and surfing became a full-time career.

Evans’ success has enabled her to travel the world and do what she loves for a living, but she says that being put in a position where she can encourage other women to take up surfing has been the highlight of her career.

Being a role model is definitely 100 per cent important to me,’ she tells me. I looked up to a lot of the top female surfers when I was younger and they were really inspirational for me, and I hope I can be an inspiration for the younger generation.’

But Evans is doing far more than just acting as a role model for young surfers. Corinne’s Surf Tour, or the Girls Surf Tour, is an initiative launched in 2010 to encourage girls to try surfing, encompassing surf days in the UK, where surfers of all levels can enjoy surf lessons and ask Evans questions, as well as surf camps abroad.

I want to create an opportunity for women to do something that perhaps they never thought they would do, and if they find it a little bit intimidating, then coming on my Surf Tour is the perfect opportunity to learn and not feel scared or intimidated or put off.’

In 2014, Evans launched Surf Betty’s, her own girl’s surf festival on Newquay’s Great Western Beach. This year’s festival took place on August 22. Surf Betty’s 2015 offered taster lessons, yoga classes, a craft workshop, a pamper tent offering hair styling, nail treatments and massage and numerous other activities for female surfers. Men are also welcome and the festival is free but donations went to women’s cancer organisation Keep A Breast.

Surfing has opened up so many doors for me, doors that I never even thought were there. I never even dreamed I would travel to the places that I’ve been to. I’ve met some amazing people and been able to have a wonderful life that I never thought I could have had.’

Come to Surf Betty’s, book onto one of my surf days or go to your local surf school and take part in a lesson. Once you’ve had a couple of session, you’ll be hooked and all you will want to do is surf.'

This article first appeared in Cornwall Life September 2015 issue.

Love surfing? Check out our interview with fellow Fistral regular and pro-surfer Alan Stokes.

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