Member of the month: Barb Whatley
1. What is your favorite surf break in San Diego?
I live in Bay Park, and typically surf Scripps and Tourmoline because they are convenient and fun! However recently, I’ve been surfing San Elijo breaks and just loving them. I surf a 9’ longboard and like clean shoulders and long rides, but open for almost anything. Just surfing with friends in small or big waves, at any break, is my favorite. I love cheering each other on and enjoy the surf and camaraderie on the water. It’s all good.
2. At what age did you start surfing and where?
I started surfing at 48 at La Jolla Shores on a funboard. Our 3 sons were in Junior Lifeguards at that time and were surfing in the summer program. They loved it and quickly folded surfing into their daily routines. My husband and I were windsurfing at the time, but our kids had no real interest in that sport, so we slowly switched to surfing, and never looked back. I am now 62 (yikes!), and still love surfing with a passion. It’s always new, different and amazing – just doesn’t get old. Lately I’ve been working on cross-stepping and trying to improve my confidence in more challenging conditions.
3. What are some of your hobbies outside of surfing?
Besides surfing, I enjoy jogging, swimming, Pilates, and playing with our adorable GoldenDoodle Murphy. I also am a regular volunteer at many organizations including ushering at the Old Globe Theatres in Balboa Park, Susan G. Komen events, and others. I am a retired financial analyst just starting to define my path forward, and surfing is definitely at the front of the line. Friends, events, vacations, clothing, home décor, and so on, all revolve around surfing and the ocean. Insane, but true. Like all of you, I have a crazy love for surfing – it is a lifestyle.
4. What is your favorite activity/event you've done with SDSL?
The Weekend Baja Trips with Manny Vargas were some of the best events with SDSL. Not only did friendships form, but the fun was ridiculous plus the waves and pics amazing. I hadn’t been to Baja in years due to the violence, but Manny made the trip easy, safe, fun, affordable, and completely memorable. Great times for sure. Other fun SDSL events are the annual holiday party and gift exchange, competing in first surf contest at Doheny’s at 60 (and yes, scared and anxious, but Jen got me though it - thanks Jen!), and all the fun photo shoots and surf instructions. It’s a privilege and pleasure to belong to SDSL. Even though we all have different backgrounds, abilities, ages, life experiences, and others, we share the common bond of surfing and it just plain works!
5. Favorite surf adventure you've done?
Besides the Baja Trips, surfing at Corky Carroll’s Surf Adventure in La Saladita, Mexico was awesome. The lefts are amazing and can go for minutes!!!! Next was El Salvador, challenging but super fun and filled with adventure. And both these opportunities came from SDSL connections (thanks Kelly!).
6. Anything else we should know about you?
I’m originally from Buffalo, NY and went to college there, then moved to Clemson, SC, where I got a graduate degree, was the women’s gymnastic coach, and met my husband. We lived in the south for a few years, then moved to San Diego in 1984 and now call this amazing place home.
I am also a proud 5 year breast cancer survivor this month. What a ride! From being a perfectly healthy woman with no symptoms, to being diagnosed at 57 and then having a bilateral mastectomy, chemotherapy and other related surgeries in a matter of weeks -- was a true game-changer. Besides the support of my family and friends, it was surfing that kept me going. I couldn’t wait to get back in the water, and was determined to surf as soon as possible, and I did 6 months later! Today, the perspective of having lived through a devastating diagnosis, has made me a better person and surfer too. “Don’t sweat the small stuff, and it’s all small stuff” is so true. When I get anxious or fearful, like on a big wave, I self-council with “you got this”, “you can do it”, “you’re not alone”, “it’s all good”, “you’ll be OK”, and then carry-on. We’re all in this together, so let’s make it fun and meaningful. Cheers to my “salty sistas” for health, happiness, and the joy of surfing.