Surfin' F-L-A

A group of intrepid wahines is trying to take charge of its sport

Parya's addiction still dominates her heart. Like Kristy and Jenni, she is still angling for ways to fund her obsession. Recognizing that women's surfing is suddenly trendy, Parya and fellow Peruvian surfer Jose Madalengoitia recently began tossing around an idea that would enable them to travel, surf, and have it all paid for by someone else. "I'm trying to find any loophole I can," she says.

Jose is a videographer who worked in Fort Lauderdale for several years making film clips for boxing matches for Don King Productions. Since quitting the company a few years ago, he has taped extreme-sports footage and surfing competitions for the Miami-based Latin sports cable company, AXN.

This summer, Parya and Jose approached AXN with an idea. They wanted to do a reality-based surfer program for Latin American television. They would bring together a group of international women and travel with them throughout South America over several months, filming the friendships that developed, the hardships faced, and the waves surfed. "We want to do it now while women's surfing is hot," Parya says. "Now is the time to do it."

Steve Satterwhite
Top right, Parya Jatala runs into the surf on a frigid day at Boynton Beach. Top left, Kristy Murphy crouches on her longboard and, on the bottom, Jupiter surfer Kristy Murphy and the Siren longboard she helped design.
Top right, Parya Jatala runs into the surf on a frigid day at Boynton Beach. Top left, Kristy Murphy crouches on her longboard and, on the bottom, Jupiter surfer Kristy Murphy and the Siren longboard she helped design.

Unfortunately, MTV and Roxy had the same idea. MTV auditioned female surfers, age 18 to 24, in November for a reality show scheduled to air this summer. The women will train in Australia and surf around the world as they ready for professional competitions.

AXN nevertheless liked the South Florida pair's proposal and gave Jose $6,000 in December to film a pilot. Parya asked friends for the names of surfers who would qualify. Several people mentioned Kristy. The two had never met until they boarded the plane for Lima in December. When the surfers arrived, the entourage boarded a yellow VW bus painted with purple flames and drove to San Bartolo to find Peruvian surfer Karen Gamarra, whom Jose knew. The 16-year-old joined the expedition.

Recently, Parya hosted a party to air the 15-minute pilot at her apartment. "Oh, I'm so stoked," Kristy said as she sat on the sofa with her parents, Pat and Cloty. For the soundtrack, Jose laced the video with Peruvian blues and rock music in Quechua. He mixed in footage of native Peruvians riding the surf of Huanchaco in caballos de totora, long narrow boats made of reeds that many Peruvians believe anticipated surfboard design.

The pilot is upbeat and fast-moving. Clips of the girls napping, running into the surf, and climbing a rock wall in a bar are spliced together and speeded up to crunch time. In one sequence, Kristy unknowingly eats a cow's heart. "It kind of captured the adventure of a trip," Parya explains. "You are always doing things for the first time, learning about the culture. There's frustration and excitement."

The women skateboarded with some local kids in the Peruvian mountains on the way to a whitewater rafting trip in Huaraz, downed beer at the bar of a hitchhiker they picked up along the way, and visited ancient ruins. They also surfed.

Parya and Jose showed the tape to AXN soon after the Queen of the Peak contest. Two weeks ago, Jose, who is in Costa Rica, e-mailed Parya. An AXN executive told him to make a list of equipment he'll need for the project. Now Parya wants to find amateur surfers from five countries to go on a three-month surf trip.

Parya says it will be different from the MTV version of the same idea. It will be homegrown, for one thing. "This will be real people on a real trip where nothing's planned," Parya says. "We just want it to be completely natural." Kristy has already signed on. "She has to come," Parya says. "She is so stoked about everything.

"We want to make it so that everyone involved comes out of it with a once-in-a-lifetime experience," she says. "It's about traveling, finding new spots to surf, meeting the locals, and learning about the culture -- just a really, really nice, long surf trip."

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