Name: Ruthey Travis
Lives In: Rancho Bernardo
Surfing: Black’s Beach
Pre-Surf Music: Sam Cooke
Post-Surf Food: Scrambled eggs
“I should have known better. It was a foolish mistake. I was just paddling out, and I wasn’t paying attention to what was around me, which is something you should always do. I heard someone yelling, and the next thing I remember, I woke up on the beach staring up at a paramedic. Apparently, another surfer had crashed and fell right into me. His board cracked me on the back of my head, I passed out, and he towed me in. I hurt my back and neck, had to have surgery. I think this was a way for me to take some time and reflect.”
Ruthey, a San Diego native, has surfed for over 40 years.
“There was a time when women weren’t welcome in the surfing community as anything other than a cheerleader to hang out and get tan. Older people won’t tell you that; they just ignore that it happened. I was chased out of the water more times than I care to remember. The worst incident was right before Christmastime in about 1978. My close friend, who taught me to surf, had just got into the water and I was about to join him. No sooner had I gotten waist deep when two other male surfers started screaming at me. They shouted insults and threw trash at me. It was humiliating. I’d like to say that it was easy to ignore them, but it wasn’t. I had to fight for every bit of respect I got. That day I forced myself to paddle out to the break and catch one wave before I went in. I think I cried the entire time.”
Though she’s seen women gain acceptance in the water, Ruthey thinks there’s still too much conflict among all surfers, men and women.
“I’ve noticed strength in the community but also a fierce separation and ridiculous territoriality. I can’t stand to see other surfers acting like asses over waves. There are a million of them; another one will come along. I’ve seen plenty of fights, broken up plenty of fights, and it never ceases to amaze me how selfish people can be over such a beautiful sport.”