- Associated Press - Thursday, June 14, 2018

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas (AP) - Iris Vasquez had never surfed until this week.

The Corpus Christi Caller-Times reports with a big smile on her face, Vasquez tensed up. She was nervous and afraid to jump into the waves at Schlitterbahn Corpus Christi’s Boogie-Bahn.

But the female crowd cheered on.

Fighting her nerves, Vasquez took a leap into the roaring waves and began to surf. The crowd went wild.

More than 20 women, ages 8 to 70, attended free two-hour surf lessons Tuesday at the water park to celebrate National Women Learn to Surf Week. Those who attended were able to learn the best surf tricks from the mother-daughter duo of Cathy and Morgan Seabert, 2016 World Pro Female BodyBoard Champions.

Pam Renteria, a spokeswoman for Schlitterbahn, said the water park started the event last year to raise the profile of women in the sport.

Renteria said the surfing idea came from two places. The first was “Wonder Woman.” The 2017 film ignited a large female empowerment movement, and got officials at Schlitterbahn pondering how to help encourage women to do the impossible.

The second, there weren’t a lot of ladies lining up to try the daring inland surfing ride.

Renteria said her boss later spoke with Cathy Seabert on why she thinks other ladies aren’t participating.

Seabert helps instruct wave riders at the Boogie-Bahn at Schlitterbahn’s New Braunfels water park.

“Cathy told her that it could be that a lot of ladies don’t feel as confident as the guys, who have been riding the Boogie-Bahn every day,” she said. “So, that’s when we decided to change that with our two-hour lessons.”

Vasquez said she always wanted to surf but didn’t know where to go to learn. She found out on Facebook that Schlitterbahn Corpus Christi was offering free lessons, and decided to sign up.

“This week is my birthday week and I really wanted to come out here and try something new,” she said. “Getting out there was really intimidating because the water is very rough, but with the little tips the instructors were giving us, it really helped.”

Renteria said Schlitterbahn’s commitment to teaching women young and old how to surf is one of her favorite events to attend.

“I’ve seen people who started off terrified and once they give it (Boogie-Bahn) a shot, you can see the excitement on their faces once they conquer their fears,” she said. “That’s the most satisfying thing to see.”

Cathy Seabert, who is ranked second in the world for Pro Female BodyBoarding, said she also thinks it is awesome that Schlitterbahn continues to host this event.

Sometimes in this sport, there are very few female body boarders that will get out there and ride because all you see is guys out there and it can be very intimidating,” she said. “That’s why we are committed to building women up no matter how old that they can surf.”

Vasquez said she now feels more confident to ride the Boogie-Bahn because of the instructors.

“I encourage other women to come out here and do it. It is really fun and challenging,” she said.

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Information from: Corpus Christi Caller-Times, http://www.caller.com


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