Conquering Waves And Building Friendships


When Leading Aircraftwoman Kobey Misios discovered her childhood idol would be coaching the ADF Women’s Surf Development Camp, she signed up immediately.

Her biggest surfing influence growing up on the Sunshine Coast was 1990 world champion Pam Burridge, and she couldn’t miss the chance to finally meet her.

“I was really looking forward to meeting her and actually being taught by a world champion,” Leading Aircraftwoman Misios said.

“I got really emotional when I first met her; she was handing out the boards and I told her I was a big fan and gave her a hug.”

Thirty-two personnel attended the fifth annual women’s surf development camp, held at Ulladulla, NSW, on March 3-8.

The week started with wild conditions as intermediate riders braved intimidating six-foot swells. Beginners learned board skills on the beach before heading to Burrill Lake to practise on still water.

Getting back on the board came easier for Leading Aircraftwoman Misios, but for others like Warrant Officer Class Two (WO2) Sonia Barrett, it was her first time.

Hailing from Charters Towers, where the largest body of water is the weir, WO2 Barrett said getting out past her waist in waves was a big achievement.

“It was a fear of the waves that I had to get over and to find the balance to get up there on the board. I was super proud of myself,” she said.

Being out on the water was a freeing experience according to WO2 Barrett.

“It’s like a balance between yourself and the waves. I can understand why people do that Endless Summer movie surfing dream; it’s nice and relaxing, though frustrating at times,” she said.

Women’s development coordinator Commander Jessica Morris said the weather improved during the week, and while the waves were still intimidating for some, everyone got involved.

“A lot of whitewash, a lot of girls falling off the boards and things flying everywhere, but there were no injuries and it was a really great day,” she said.

With one-on-one coaching and plenty of time in the water, novice surfers soon mixed it up with the intermediates, paddling to waves by themselves and riding all the way in.

At week’s end they were joined by Army Surf Riders Association Patron Brigadier Fern Thompson, who paddled out with them for a late afternoon surf.

The last day of camp was International Women’s Day, and the group gathered for a sunrise breakfast at Golf Course Reef beach to cap off the week.

The ADF Women’s Development Camp was established to give beginners the right level of tuition to attend other surfing events.

“I’ve had 100 girls through the development camp, and the majority have said being able to meet like-minded women is really valuable,” Commander Morris said.

“Some of the girls from the first camp are still connected. They often meet up for a surf and have built long-lasting friendships.”

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