KARIE TOPOROWSKI: My Surf Story

From a young age, I always felt a strong connection to the sea.  I grew up far away from any ocean, but my family would take yearly trips to the beach, and it was always where I felt happiest.  I’d see surfers, and think to myself, I want to do that!  My brother and I would play in the pool and try to stand up on rafts and pretend we were surfing.  Fast forward to adult life.  I lived in New York City, and in between working long hours, cold winters, and the fast-paced life of Manhattan, I often found myself day dreaming of the beach, and learning how to surf.  On especially rough days, I’d research and plan my dream getaway, a trip to Costa Rica to learn how to surf.  Months and even years went by, and that trip remained a dream.  I found myself with either the money and not the time, or the time and not the money.   When the stars finally aligned and I had both, I couldn’t find a friend that also had both to join me.  So I took a plunge and made a solo trip to Costa Rica for surf camp.  While terrifying and totally outside my comfort zone, it was the best decision of my life.  

From day one, I was standing up on a board and I knew I was hooked.  And the second I caught my first green wave, I knew it was a love affair that was not going to go away.  I returned to my land-locked home, yearning for more waves.  A return trip a year later left me with those same feelings.  I knew I couldn’t stay away any longer.  I needed to move to the beach.  And surf.  I had just completed my MBA, and so faced with a transition point in my life, I decided to take a chance, pack up my life, and move to the other side of the country.  California.  Surf City , USA.  While I moved under the guise of a job, in my heart and soul, I knew I was moving to surf.  

As a still novice woman surfer though, the breaks in southern California intimidated me.  After a few months of moving to California, I still hadn’t paddled out, even though I lived literally steps from the ocean.  I needed some surfing buddies.  I googled “women’s surf club” and hit the jackpot when I discovered Wahine Kai.  I have met some of the most amazing, strong, inspiring women through this club that I’m proud to call my friends.  Surfing is the glue that bonds us.  I was never in a sorority in college, but the sisterhood surfing has brought me is unmatchable.

Surfing is so many things to me. It helps me to relieve stress, gives me time to think through life’s problems, and is an excuse to spend time with friends.  Most of all, surfing makes me feel like a kid again.  There is an innocent joy that comes with riding a wave.  

It has taught me so many things.  It has taught me to be humble and respect the ocean.  It has taught me patience and calm (two things I tend to lack in my “land life”).  It is my religion.  I feel most at peace with the world, sitting on my board, outside the break, whether it be at dawn, with dolphins playing just feet away, or at dusk, as the sun is melting into the ocean, for a perfect sunset session.  The joy it brings to my life is something I want to share with the world.  Any time I tell someone I surf, my eyes light up.  I’ve had a number of female friends express that they’ve always wanted to learn, or want to give it a try.  I’m happy to serve as an ambassador for the Making Waves project and help make the dream of 1 million more women surfers a reality!