It might not have the name recognition of the North Shore or the Gold Coast, but Morocco’s Atlantic seaboard boasts some of the best surfing in the world. In recent years, it has launched a number of homegrown professional surfers onto the world stage. But never a woman. Now, for the first time in its seven-year history, there is a women’s division at the Agadir Open, a countrywide surf and bodyboard competition held on on a stretch of shoreline home to Morocco’s premier breaks. The event is run by the Imourane Surf Association, a local nonprofit that counts pro Moroccan riders Ramzi Boukhiam, who is sponsored by Quiksilver, and Othmane Choufani among its members. This year, ten women took to the waves during the three-day contest, which started on March 24. Meryem El Gardoum, a 20-year-old native of Tamraght, won the surf division, outscoring four competitors in her 13-to-38 age group with a combination of wave choice, maneuvers, and style.
These women are not alone. A swell of female Muslim surfers have made headlines in recent years, from Gaza to Iran to Bangladesh. But with seven women’s competitions per year, national championships, and female members on the national team, the surfeuses from Morocco are raising the bar. Photographer Mary Mathis and reporter David Fuchs, who produced this story with Round Earth Media, were on the ground to capture several women who competed at the Agadir Open last weekend.
Photo, from left: Surfers Lilias Tebbai, 12, Kenza Guemmi, 11, and bodyboarder Ines Tebbai, 10, exit the water at Devils Rock, Tamraght.