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The Drop In Sessions 7: Jodie Cooper

“I want the sport of surfing to not be white bread!!”

As we navigate our way through the fascinating topics explored so far in The Drop In Sessions, brought to you by the awesome folk at Mermaid Gin, the Isle of Wight based purveyors of the finest, hand-crafted spirits rooted in nature and botanicals,  we find ourselves at episode 7 of this inspiring series.  Grab yourselves a cuppa tea, or maybe a G and T, because this episode is one host Sophie Everard is amped to share with you all!

Western Australia born and bred Jodie Cooper is quite simply straight up synonymous with being not just a trailblazing icon in women’s surfing. From her powerful big wave surfing which totally re-defined the limits of what women were doing at the time, winning 13 international surfing events, with titles in Australia, Japan, Hawaii and the United States, to being made a Life Member of the Association of Surfing Professionals in 1994 and being inducted into the Western Australian Hall of Champions.  But her career and life in surfing has been multi-faceted…

Truly one of her generation’s best, during the 80s and 90s, the natural footer powerhouse along with fellow athletes from the era including Frieda Zamba, Wendy Botha, Pauline Menzer and Pam Burridge fought against sexism, homophobia, and bigoted, chauvinistic prejudices as female professional surfers. Whether that was through tossing the female athletes into terrible surf conditions during the then ASP World Tour, paying them diddly squat, being witch hunted for their sexuality or worse, it’s been captured in the already iconic and hilariously poignant movie, Girls Can’t Surf, which is touring around cinemas in Europe right now.  

Jodie’s surfing, however, has always done the main talking, and she will always be a true stand out athlete. This is especially true in Hawaii, where she was a dominating presence with her incredible power, skill and flair, and where she pretty much booted down the door as a women to regularly surf Backdoor, taking a breakthrough win at Haleiwa in 1985, successive wins at Sunset, and a non-stop period of dominating wins in 1992 and 1993.  Fun fact alert, she was also Lori Petty aka Tyler’s stunt double in Kathryn Bigelow’s seminal movie Point Break. 

Jodie has made it through the misogyny of the 80s, an actual shark attack, abhorrent bullying and more, with a refreshing amount of honesty and humour.  Her frank and candid approach to her surfing career, including the challenges she faced, the epic moments and surfing highs, have made her one of pro-surfing’s most cherished and loved icons. For over 30 years her passion for surfing and readiness to stand up for what’s right, for herself, for women’s surfing and for equality, makes for such a powerful legacy that today’s professional female surfers feel and will continue to experience. 

In this episode, Sophie and Jodie talk about her wild experiences of the 80’s and 90s, why taking a stand against the homophobia of the industry in the 80’s was a pivotal moment where she “wanted to do it for women’s surfing and human kind”, her early adventures with Pam Burridge on tour feeling like “Crocodile Dundee” and the release of the amazing Girl’s Can’t Surf movie.