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I am in the water for me. It’s my sanctuary. It’s my church.

I’m like a solo surf warrior girl

55-year-old Leanne Tibiatowski surfs Ocean Beach.
55-year-old Leanne Tibiatowski surfs Ocean Beach.

How long have you been surfing?

About three and half years. I started late.

Do you have a favorite surf moment?

The very first time I got on a board in Todos Santos. I unexpectedly took [a surf] lesson. The first time I stood up, I fundamentally, essentially changed. I knew that I would not be able to stop [surfing].

What is it like being an older female surfer?

I kind of do my own thing. I don’t charge right out where all the people are. I’m like a solo surf warrior girl. I am super stoked to see people out here older than me and all the way down to the groms. I am grateful that there are a lot more women in the water now. That changes the vibe. I am in the water for me. It’s my sanctuary. It’s my church.

Favorite surf spot?

My most frequented surf spot is right here in front of Tower 5 in OB. This spot right here changed my life. Through my connection to the ocean on a surfboard, I was able to find this joy, peace, and self-acceptance that I never thought I would. So, it is my favorite place. I feel an incredibly strong sense of community here in Ocean Beach.

What do you love the most about surfing?

This relationship I have with myself, and the always changing, ocean, and my board — it’s like being in a relationship with three people. Finding the harmony, and then actually getting it all together enough to ride a wave is just so exciting! Whether I catch a green wave and ride it all the way, or I eat it, I always come up so happy and so stoked, every time!

Have you had scary moments surfing?

So many! I mean, sometimes I might cry, but I always feel so much better after being in the water. The ocean holds all of that for us. It holds our joy, our tears, our fear. It tosses us around. Sometimes ruggedly, sometimes playfully! It’s like a dose of medicine or your favorite drug.

Have you had any cool wildlife experiences in the water?

Oh my gosh, yes! I love the sea lions that pop up. I love the dolphins swimming in the waves. I love seeing the leopard sharks. I love it all. It’s such an honor to be able to float around in their home and catch waves and ride this living organism.

Advice for new surfers?

Understand the ocean. Understand that it’s like a freeway out there. You need to pay attention to what is happening around you. Know the order; know the stop signs. Know what the water is doing. Know what a rip current is. And stay out of the way!

Do you have a favorite board?

They very first board I got. I got it in the parking lot of Coconut Peet’s from this 75-year-old guy named Dan. It’s just what I wanted! I love the old school boards, the ‘80s look. It’s a 9-foot Becker.

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55-year-old Leanne Tibiatowski surfs Ocean Beach.
55-year-old Leanne Tibiatowski surfs Ocean Beach.

How long have you been surfing?

About three and half years. I started late.

Do you have a favorite surf moment?

The very first time I got on a board in Todos Santos. I unexpectedly took [a surf] lesson. The first time I stood up, I fundamentally, essentially changed. I knew that I would not be able to stop [surfing].

What is it like being an older female surfer?

I kind of do my own thing. I don’t charge right out where all the people are. I’m like a solo surf warrior girl. I am super stoked to see people out here older than me and all the way down to the groms. I am grateful that there are a lot more women in the water now. That changes the vibe. I am in the water for me. It’s my sanctuary. It’s my church.

Favorite surf spot?

My most frequented surf spot is right here in front of Tower 5 in OB. This spot right here changed my life. Through my connection to the ocean on a surfboard, I was able to find this joy, peace, and self-acceptance that I never thought I would. So, it is my favorite place. I feel an incredibly strong sense of community here in Ocean Beach.

What do you love the most about surfing?

This relationship I have with myself, and the always changing, ocean, and my board — it’s like being in a relationship with three people. Finding the harmony, and then actually getting it all together enough to ride a wave is just so exciting! Whether I catch a green wave and ride it all the way, or I eat it, I always come up so happy and so stoked, every time!

Have you had scary moments surfing?

So many! I mean, sometimes I might cry, but I always feel so much better after being in the water. The ocean holds all of that for us. It holds our joy, our tears, our fear. It tosses us around. Sometimes ruggedly, sometimes playfully! It’s like a dose of medicine or your favorite drug.

Have you had any cool wildlife experiences in the water?

Oh my gosh, yes! I love the sea lions that pop up. I love the dolphins swimming in the waves. I love seeing the leopard sharks. I love it all. It’s such an honor to be able to float around in their home and catch waves and ride this living organism.

Advice for new surfers?

Understand the ocean. Understand that it’s like a freeway out there. You need to pay attention to what is happening around you. Know the order; know the stop signs. Know what the water is doing. Know what a rip current is. And stay out of the way!

Do you have a favorite board?

They very first board I got. I got it in the parking lot of Coconut Peet’s from this 75-year-old guy named Dan. It’s just what I wanted! I love the old school boards, the ‘80s look. It’s a 9-foot Becker.

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