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Raglan surfer carves her own niche in saturated market

Raglan surfer Ruby Meade wants to empower women to ride the waves that men do.

The 22-year-old, who has been coaching surfing for six years, has just started up her new website, The Surf Box, to help women reach their highest potential in the water. She offers top tips for improving skills and motivation, video analysis coaching, and advice on fitness training and nutrition.

Ruby says often the surfing stereotype is for women to look good, have the bleached-blonde hair and ride a pink hibiscus-flowered surfboard.

“I hate that,” she says. “That takes away from the fact that women can actually perform.

“I’m trying to move away from that and help develop women’s skills in the water to become good surfers.

“Women have a reputation for not being so confident in the water, and often bring that on themselves, too, because of the expectation from society. They don’t push themselves as much.”

Ruby, who surfed competitively while growing up in Auckland, moved to Raglan at the age of 18.

She has degrees in sports science and teaching from Waikato University, and works as a relief teacher, but says she didn’t want to teach fulltime in schools.

“I decided that that was far too conservative for me and I wanted to go on my own route,” says Ruby, who also works at Raglan Roast in Volcom Lane.

So she set up The Surf Box a few months ago and is concentrating on teaching her passions: surfing, a healthy lifestyle and good nutrition.

“Surfing is quite a saturated market, especially for men,” says Ruby, about looking for her niche in the industry.

“I am a woman. People would say to me ‘you get so many waves in the water’, they would says things like that to me, and I realised that I had a knowledge to pass on.

“I love surfing myself, I love surfing with other girls or women, and I want to make a lifestyle out of it where I can share my knowledge of coaching, surfing and natural health and fitness with others.”

Ruby acknowledges that there are “definitely heaps more women surfers” nowadays, but when and where they surf often “depends on the conditions”.

“On the beach where it is small and soft it might be 30-70, women to men,” she says of a day out in Raglan. “But on a big day at  Indies I will be the only woman out, among maybe 40 men.”

She says her aim is to coach women to surf at a performance-based level, where they feel strong and fit enough to take on the big waves: “Giving confidence through words and also technically helping them out.”

One part of Ruby’s business is video analysis coaching, where women can send in footage of them surfing for appraisal.

Using split-screen analysis software, Ruby compares the footage with that of a professional surfer on a similar wave or doing a similar turn.

“I slow them both right down … and give a voice-over analysis of how they can improve their technique.”

Ruby says her website has been getting about 1000 hits a week, and she has been fielding questions from all over the world, including the United Kingdom, Germany, Australia and Dubai.

She says her focus isn’t about making money this year, but building a following and attracting advertisers.

“I haven’t made much money from it so far but I have had a few companies contact me to advertise their products.”

With her eye on the future, Ruby says she’s also thinking about writing ebooks on surfing and nutrition, but what she’d like most, if she can get a big enough following, is to hold all-women’s high performance surf camps around the world.

“Maybe even making it my fulltime job.”

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