SuperGirl Surf Pro brings women's surfing, music festival, and inspiration to Oceanside
More than 140 top female surf pros from around the world will be competing for the 17th annual Nissan SuperGirl Surf Pro championship near the Oceanside Pier this weekend.
SuperGirl Surf Pro bills itself the largest female surfing event in the world.
"We have all of the best girls in the world here. So it's pretty cool to come back every year and see how much everyone’s progressed and it really pushes you to want to be better," said Alyssa Spencer, an Encinitas-based professional surfer.
She has competed in the SuperGirl Surf Pro since she was 12, and while she looks forward to competing, she said mentoring young girls at the event is one of her favorite parts of the weekend.
"I love coming out of the water and having all of the girls run up to you asking for autographs and pictures," Spencer said. "It makes everything come pretty full circle for me, because I used to be one of those little girls running up to the older girls when I was younger."
And now, Spencer gets to pay that forward.
"I really like Alyssa Spencer ... she's surfed with us before and she's really nice and a great surfer," said 12-year-old Teddy Gatti, who is participating in the Super Girl surfing mentorship program, where participants get to learn and surf with the professional surfers they look up to.
"It's like really special and a really awesome opportunity because they're really good pros and they're really nice," Gatti said.
Gatti says attending the event encourages her to continue practicing a sport she has grown to love, and one day come back as a pro.
"Most times I surf, there's not really a lot of girls out. So it's just like cool to see how many young girls surfers there are here," she said.
And it was the lack of women-dominated surfing events that led to the creation of the SuperGirl Surf Pro 17 years ago.
Rick Bratman is the director of the event and calls himself a “girl dad.”
He started the project as a labor of love for his daughters, after noticing the lack of recognition when it comes to women's sports.
"The women really appreciate the fact that this is their event, it's their platform. They don't have to share time in the water with the men," he said. "Normally when they do share time in the water with the men, the men get the better times. The women are always relegated as second tier status and here … they're on top of the world and I think that's something they love and appreciate."
He said every year the event has grown. And it's about more than just surfing, "It's all about empowering women, providing opportunity and inclusion for women. So in addition to the top females surfers, you've also got 15 live concerts, a female DJ competition, female e-sports events, about 20 free classes, female beach volleyball, speakers, panel discussions, female artists, content creators. Its really about celebrating women from a variety of different walks of life," Bratman said.
It's also an event the community and small businesses look forward to every year, especially during the off-summer season.
"(Businesses) really watch the calendar closely, so they can not only just order more food, but also staff up for these types of events," said Leslee Gaul with Visit Oceanside. "So they're prepared and providing a good experience for the locals and visitors that come down"
She says the event is an economic engine for the city and is expected to generate close to $1 million in spending.
Event organizers expect around 75,000 people to attend the free event that runs until Sunday.