Huntington Beach, CA-

Huntington Beach Female Surf Team

20 ambitious women from heading for the water at 9th Street as a late autumn sun dropped behind the cold Pacific Ocean has become a ritual for these girls.

That day, dressed in wet suits and carrying both short and long boards, the women comprised the newly formed club called the "Surf City Wahines."

They exchange "hellos" as they head to the water, then exchange small talk in the lineup as they wait for the next wave.

Huntington Beach resident Aimee Vlachos organized the club, which is made up of female surfers ages 18 to 54.

The club meets every other Friday evening for what Vlachos, 28, calls a "sunset social paddle."

"The goal of the club is to create a supportive, nonjudgmental community of female surfers who will help each other grow spiritually and physically in the sport of surfing," Vlachos said.

The inaugural surfing paddle took place at Tower 21 at Bolsa Chica State Beach on Oct. 22.

On that first foray into the water, 30 women took part in the surfing paddle, Vlachos said.

Although 20 managed to make last Friday's paddle, club membership has risen to 90 women.

"I put fliers around town, ads at places like the HB Wahine All-Girls Surf School and at surf clinics," Vlachos said. "At first, 40 women showed interest in the club. Since then, and through word of mouth, the club now totals 90 members. We're still growing, and we welcome all women who want to join in on the camaraderie."

The women come to Surf City each Friday from as far away as Laguna Hills in the south, and Seal Beach to the north.

The level of surfing experience runs from novice to the seasoned competitor.

Among the novices is Suzanne White.

The Huntington Beach resident, a French teacher at Gahr High School in Cerritos, began surfing in mid-August.

"I went on a trip to France and friends had asked if I surfed," said White, 28. "They couldn't believe that I didn't, especially living in a famous surf town like Huntington Beach.

"I got involved with the club because I want to get better and go out there and have a good time doing it. I also would like to be able to take a great surf trip somewhere. That would be awesome with this club."

Kori Nevarez of Cypress, who could be considered the seasoned competitor in the club, said that one of the goals of the club is to plan a major trip, perhaps to Costa Rica.

"This club is just such a neat idea, and a long time coming," said Nevarez, 43, a Cypress resident. "There are many reasons women don't go out and surf on their own. Some wait until their boyfriends go out to surf, for instance. This club is the perfect way for women to come together and surf together as one."

Nevarez has been a competitive surfer since her days at San Clemente High. She competed in one of the first National Scholastic Surf Assn. events ever held, and went on to become an NSSA state champion as a student at Golden West College.

She was a member of the Robert August surf team while at Golden West.

"I've been at this a long time, but I have so much fun with surfing," she said. "This club Aimee has organized is terrific. You have women who are just starting out, wanting to learn more about surfing, and women who have enjoyed surfing much of their lives.

"We're here to help each other, give pointers."

When the surf session is complete each Friday, the club journeys to a local establishment for dinner.

"We make it a complete evening and we get to know one another better out of the water," Vlachos added. "We talk about everything, from surfing, to every day stuff. But, what has linked us all together is our love for surfing. That's definitely our bond."