In one of the premier hotbeds of American surf talent, the WSL's Rising Tides girls program took place in the shadow the Huntington Pier on Friday at the Vans US Open of Surfing. Rising Tides hosted an inclusive surf day to inspire young girls and women to become interested in professional surfing and CT events on a global scale.
A massive turnout of young women from around Orange County, California, was on hand to share the lineup with the likes of reigning World Champion Stephanie Gilmore, defending Vans US Open Champ Courtney Conlogue, 2018 Rookie of the Year Caroline Marks, as well as the ever-inspirational Bethany Hamilton and a host of other CT stars.
"The beauty of the Rising Tides is that each place we go we get to see how much that local group of girls has actually progressed and how they're surfing," explained Gilmore. "Here in California there's a lot more support for young surfers and these girls surf really well. These will be the girls that we see on the World Tour in no time. It's really exciting to actually be out there in the water with them and share a bit of knowledge with them."
Enamored by the abundance of young talent in the water with her, Gilmore was quick to point that the girls they were surfing with today may be her fiercest rivals in the not-to-distant future.
"This is definitely the more advanced Rising Tides. I see them progressing at a rate that's much faster than the older generations and the women that I looked up to, so think that we'll see that innovation in the surfing coming through a lot more on Tour," Gilmore smiled.
For Conlogue, the opportunity to spend time with the local girls brought it all back home. Growing up in nearby Santa Ana, as a grom Conlogue spent countless hours at the pier training and dreaming. Relishing the opportunity to give back, she whole-heartedly embraced the moment.
"I think anytime you have the opportunity to surf with the World Tour athletes it is pretty special. When I wasn't on the Tour and I had the opportunity to surf with Sofia [Mulanovich], Bevo [Clair Bevilacqua] and those young women, and surf alongside them, they were special moments that you don't forget," said Conlogue. "And to be able to share that through the Rising Tides with the CT and QS crew is pretty spectacular. I'm just very grateful that I get to share the sport of surfing and something I love so much with everyone."