di Erika Scafuro
“Surfing is a wonderful, exhilarating and exciting sport”. So, in a video from back in the day, Joyce Hoffman responded to those who asked her what surfing meant. In 1960s Joyce was a leading female surfer; being one in those years, when surfing was seen as a sport purely male, was very different from being a female surfer now that women athletes have gained inclusiveness and respect. But Joyce Hoffman was tough, pursued her goal of being the best surfer in the world and went down in the history of top female competitive surfers; carrying forward the thought that even if surfing was a difficult sport, it wasn’t so difficult as long as it allowed you to grow, have fun and establish yourself as a professional.
Still today the photos portray her beautiful and smiling even when, as well as a teenager, the spotlights were on her as she was one of the few women surfing regularly in Hawaii.
Born in 1947 in Dana Point, California, Joyce was introduced to surfing by her stepfather the big wave surfer Walter Hoffman who made her first ride the waves of Capistrano Beach. At the age of 17 Joyce became a surfing star, she began to compete and to win contests and international competitions such as the U.S. Women’s Championship that she won three consecutive times in 1965, 1966, 1967 and then in 1970; the Makaha International Surfing Championships, the annual surfing competition held in Oahu, Hawaii, and the Women’s Surfer Poll Awards. But, more than anything else, she has been crowned surfing world champion twice in 1965 and in 1966. The 60’s were truly magical years for Joyce: in 1965 even the LA Times named her Woman of the Year; she was one of the first to be named in the International Surfing Hall of Fame and she is also remembered for being the first woman to have surfed, in 1968, at Banzai Pipeline in Hawaii.
What’s the secret to such an intense career? Certainly, as Joyce said in various interviews, time has been on her side being those of her victories in surfing glorious years for this sport. But to become a female surfing star, in addition to talent, Joyce has expended a lot of energy, determination, courage, a competitive spirit has done the rest.
Joyce’s story is an inspiration to all women surfers today who feel the pressure of competition and often struggle to overcome obstacles.