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July 13, 2016

20 Surf Photos That Show Women Making Waves From the 1930s Through the 1960s

In the early 20th century, wooden surfboards were long and heavy — measuring 15 feet long and weighing nearly 100 pounds — which prevented many women from taking up the sport.

But by the 1940s and 1950s, Malibu surfers had developed "girl boards," also known as the "Malibu chip." These were made of balsa wood and were easier for women to handle.

Whilst surfing was spreading across the globe and growing organically it was a 1959 film about a girl with big ideas called Gidget which catapulted surfing culture into the stratosphere. The film, set around Malibu in California, was a wild success, bringing surfing massive mainstream exposure and nothing would ever be the same again.

Surfing went through the roof in the 1960s. Hollywood jumped on the Gidget bandwagon and filmed more surf movies.

Here are 20 interesting vintage photos of women surfers from between the 1930s and 1960s:

Six young women are ready with their surf boards on a beach in southern California, circa late 1920s/early 1930s. (Underwood Archives—Getty Images)

Women surfboarders form a star as they lie on their huge hollow surfboards on Santa Monica beach, circa 1935. (General Photographic Agency—Getty Images)

Surfers in the water in Hawaii, 1938. (Toni Frissell—Condé Nast/Getty Images)

Geraldine Mathis being pulled along on her surfboard by a car driven along the sand near the mouth of the Necanicum River in Oregon circa 1940. (FPG—Getty Images)

A lifeguard teaches four women how to handle a surfboard on the beach at Newquay in Cornwall, 1950. (J. R. T. Richardson/Fox Photos—Getty Images)

Expert surfer Betty Hunt riding the waves at Newquay, Cornwall, 1952. (John Chillingworth/Picture Post—Getty Images)

Three surfing girls (left to right, Marilyn Ridge, Lyn Connelly, Dee Delaney) prepare to ride the swell and maybe catch a tube or two down on Newquay beach, Cornwall, 1955. (Russell Knight/BIPS—Getty Images)

16 yr. old surfer Kathy (Gidget) Kohner on the beach with her surfboard, 1957. (Allan Grant—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

Kathy Kohner (aka Gidget) surfing, 1957. (Allan Grant—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

American actor Sandra Dee walks on the beach, carrying a surfboard in a still from the film, 'Gidget,' directed by Paul Wendkos, 1959. (Columbia Pictures—Courtesy of Getty Images)

Two women carrying their surfboards at the beach, 1960. (Marka/UIG—Getty Images)

Members of the North Bay surfing club upload their surf boards from a station wagon at Malibu Beach, Calif. on July 12, 1961. (AP Photo)

Linda Benson of the United States in competition for the women’s title of the World Surfboard Riding Championships staged at Sydney’s Manley Beach, Australia on May 17, 1964. (AP Photo)

Maureen Horsley, 18, of Sydney, Australia, left, and American champion Linda Benson, 20, of the Encinitas Club of California, prepare for a dip in the Australian surf on May 16, 1964, in a warm-up for the World Surfboard Riding Championships at Sydney’s Manly Beach. (AP Photo)

A woman carries her surf board down to the water on a beach near Sydney, Australia, circa 1965. (Archive Photos—Getty Images)

Sally Field from the television series, 'Gidget,' posing in a swimsuit with a surfboard on the beach, circa 1965. (ABC Television—Courtesy of Getty Images)

Water ski champions demonstrating their skills as they ride the wake of the waves without the use of a tow-line, at Cypress Gardens in California, 1965. (Keystone-France/;Gamma-Keystone—Getty Images)

Surfers enjoying the warm waters of Miami Beach, Fla., 1966. (Joe Migon—AP Photo)

US surfer, Kathie Lacroix, during the Woman's World Surfing Championships, 1966. (Charles Bonnay—The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)

A woman in a checkered bikini leaning on a surf board Circa 1967 in Los Angeles. (Michael Ochs Archives—Getty Images)

(via TIME)



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