Finding Inspiration in the Water

Laurel Senick pushes boundaries

BY Fritts Causby

Laurel Senick surfing Wrightsville Beach on the north side of Crystal Pier at sunrise. Bryanna Lynn Pryce
Laurel Senick surfing Wrightsville Beach on the north side of Crystal Pier at sunrise. Bryanna Lynn Pryce

Laurel Senick has been a fixture on the Wrightsville Beach surf scene for more than two decades. The award-winning filmmaker was introduced to surfing when a woman entered her workplace offering to sell a wetsuit so she could raise gas money for a surf competition in Florida.

“I had never thought about surfing, but at that moment I thought it sounded like fun. It was two years before I gave that suit a try,” Senick says.

Back in those days, it was uncommon to see females out in the lineup. With the introduction of Lisa Andersen to the global surf contest circuit, the trend started to shift, and more women and girls found an interest in the sport.

A native of Florida, Andersen won world titles from 1994 to 1997. Along with her clothing sponsor Roxy, Andersen is often credited with helping make women’s boardshorts more functional and advancing the cause of equal pay.  

Women are now the fastest growing sector of the surfing population, rising by 20 percent since 2010.

“Sometimes we outnumber the guys,” Senick says.

Senick shot a documentary film called Any Given Morning about her eclectic peers in the Wrightsville Beach surfing community in 2007. It garnered Best Documentary honors in the SoCal Film Festival and an Audience Choice award at the Rincon International Film Festival, named for the famous surf break in Puerto Rico.

Laurel Senick catches a hurricane swell at Wrightsville Beach on the south side of Crystal Pier. Her debut novel was published in May. Alan Morris

This year, Senick published her first novel, Foam, a thriller that begins at her home break. The book takes the reader on a wild ride of waves, freediving through underwater caves, and a search for ancient treasure.

Surf literature has evolved over the past three decades or so, with leading writers such as Kem Nunn, Susan Casey, Daniel Duane and Tim Winton earning acclaim. William Finnegan, a writer for The New Yorker since 1987, won the Pulitzer Prize in 2016 for his memoir on surfing and life, Barbarian Days.

Senick recognized there was a shortfall in surfing novels featuring a strong female lead. Her book was created to serve that niche. She is donating 10 percent of the profits to the Surfrider Foundation, which is dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of the world’s oceans, waves and beaches through a powerful activist network.

Senick has led surfing/writing retreats in Puerto Rico in the winter months for several years. Along with Ashley Chapman, she also hosts Post Session Podcast, which is designed to share the stoke of a surf session and the guidance of ocean voyagers.

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