Samantha Ryan is the president of Sisters of the Sea, an organization bringing female surfers together…as simple as that! Learn more about how she discovered her passion for surfing and the impact that this association has on the community in Jacksonville, Florida!
Q: Tell us a little about yourself (short bio).
A: I am a Florida native who started surfing in 1981. I was one of two gals who competed in the North Florida ESA, they would put us in the boogie board heat which is telling of the time and of women’s surfing then. I was blessed to grow up working at Hixon’s Surf Shop which influenced me greatly to continue surfing and gave me some of the coolest mentors one could ask for. I was raised in Jacksonville Beach, Florida with four brothers and as an adult have lived in California and Maui. I spent a good bit of my 20’s in Maui, working as a Massage Therapist for the Ritz Carlton, Kapalua. Fast forward, married a great guy, two kids, thirteen years of marriage still going strong and now I surf with my kids, which is my dream come true! In the beginning of 2018 I became President of Sisters of the Sea and am energized to get even more gals in the water to truly support women’s surfing.
Q: What is the Sisters of the Sea organization?
A: As a founding member, we started with a handful of gals wanting to surf more with other gals. Today, we are the same but with hundreds of members and larger platform to do more good.
Q: In 2001, you became an 501c-3 non-profit association. What does this mean?
A: Thanks to Valerie Gregg who had the insight to do so, it means we are here to stay. We are passionate about using Sisters of the Sea as a vehicle to raise money and awareness for women’s health, keep our beaches clean and to share the stoke of surfing to as many girls and women as possible. In other words, we are legit!
Q: How do you become a member of Sister of the Sea and what are the benefits of becoming a member?
A: There a few ways to become a member, you may sign up at on our website (and sign up for the Surf Classic at the same time) or go to our site and click on “Membership”. First, you get an Sisters of the Sea T-shirt, membership card & car decal, secondly, you will receive various discounts from several surf industry companies as well as local surf shops. The discounts range from 10-25% off. Lastly, you get a lot good karma!
Q: Every year, you hold a well renowned surf event in Jacksonville, Florida. Do you hold all of your events locally?
A: Yes, as of now we have two main events, The Sisters of the Sea Surf Classic, which is one of the largest all female surf contests on the East Coast and our Sisters & Survivors “A Day of Fun in the Sun” where we teach female cancer survivors how to surf. It is an incredible day to see those gals stand up and enjoy the stoke of surfing, love it!
Q: You are involved with Bosom Buddies Program at the Women's Center of Jax. What is this program about and why have you chosen to partner with them?
A: They are a community outreach which supports women while they are fighting cancer by arranging rides to treatment, buying groceries, keeping the electricity on, providing prosthesis wigs and lots of LOVE (and much more)! The founder of Bosom Buddies, Bobbi Hanks Cordova is one of the most compassionate people I’ve ever met, she is my hero!
Q: How much money have you raised so far for your organization?
A: Just shy of $100,000 woot woot!
Q: Sisters of the Sea has launched the careers of some professional surfers, like Piper Austin and Kayla Durden. How does it feel to have such an impact on the surfing community?
A: It feels great, especially when we have had the pleasure of watching them grow up, not only do they shred, they are extremely bright and kind individuals who will go far in life whether surfing professionally or taking charge in the business world. I’d like to say that as great as it is to have professional surfers come through our Sister of the Sea organization, we are simply about the joy of surfing from the beginner to the shredder to the older sisters who carved the way for us. We are a village of Sisterhood and we are here to stay!
Follow Sisters of the Sea on Instagram as they document their twentieth anniversary event this year (@sistersofthesea).