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Muddy Meets: Rachel Murphy, founder of Women + Waves

Muddy chats to the founder of the Cornish female surf collective about all things surfing including her love of Cornwall, why we should all be joining her on a water retreat and what happened when H&M got in touch about a surf collaboration.

What inspired you to set up Women + Waves?

I mainly grew up surfing solo when I was younger and it wasn’t until later in life I really realised how much surfing with my friends made it so much more fun!

I worked in surf schools, followed by many surf trips but after a bit of a surf scare my confidence got knocked. I knew if I didn’t get back in the water and overcome my fear I’d regret it.

I was lucky because my husband (who’s basically part fish) taught me how to bodysurf, swim under the waves and just enjoy the water without the pressures of a board and how to feel confident and calm if you get into an uncomfortable situation.

I couldn’t wait to share these skills and knowledge with my friends as I knew so many had been in a similar situation as me or lacked confidence in the water as they didn’t understand it.

In the summer of 2017 I started the Women + Waves Surf Club. It started with bringing my water-loving friends together in a fun surf club environment. It didn’t matter how good they were, or if they just wanted to dip their toes in. It was about getting in the water, washing the day away and having fun in a comfortable, no-pressure environment and building confidence where needed.

Then it just grew, so by the end of that summer, we had 60 women on the beach, like a small army taking over the line up. It was incredible. I started to see an interest for all-female surf lessons, surf weekends + holidays, hints and tips, and extra confidence boost and a chance to meet like-minded women.

That’s when the Women + Waves ‘surf society’ really blossomed. We’ve created a welcoming women’s surf community where we all fully support each other.

The vibe’s contagious and I love seeing how stoked everyone looks after a surf session with us. Plus knowing that surfing may have just changed their lives forever!

Sounds awesome – tell us more? Is it just for women that can already surf or can anyone join, even if they don’t live in Cornwall?

Women + Waves is an all-female surf collective. We offer surf coaching weekends and international surf holidays to women of all ages, experience and backgrounds for women all over the country and further. We have women joining us from all over the globe as well as locally too. 

We also offer online coaching tips, blog, youtube channel and a private members group for those who can’t physically come surfing with us. This year we have launched our new online shop, so you can surf and shop with us!

And just this week we have launched our new event – the Water Women Weekend. It’s a two day escape on the North Cornish coast where women can get together and enjoy wild sea swimming, surfing, stand up paddle boarding and generally enjoy a chilled out weekend of coastal appreciation. 

A lot of people just book lessons at their nearest beach – but your events and retreats sound a bit more special – why’s that?

I think the amount of passion that our team brings into each of our events makes us stand out from the competition. We have decades of experience within our team and we offer in-depth tuition both in and out of the water including photo + video analysis.

We work really hard to make sure we are offering the best surf coaching and services, from surf theory talks, guest speakers, surf specific stretches + warm-ups to just hanging out and sharing surf stories and travel tips.

You won’t find another bunch of women who are as supportive + passionate as our team. I’m so proud of them. 

Not that Cornwall needs a sell, but why do you choose to run things down here when you could be anywhere?

Cornwall is home to me and many other members of our team, so naturally, in full Cornish style I am its biggest supporter. I’ve surfed all over the world, but nothing quite measures up to the beautiful Cornish coast and the community that brings it together. You can find waves in every nook and cranny if you want to, there’s waves for everyone in all conditions, the key is just knowing where to find them 🙂

The collection with H&M is super exciting! How did that come about? 

We were really stoked when H&M approached us! We’d been working really hard, creating inspiring and useful content across our social channels as well as offering amazing coaching weekends and H&M contacted us to discuss a collaboration- we were thrilled, and it really is an honour to work with such a fantastic global brand. They were really intrigued to understand more about Women + Waves and very passionate in wanting to create a H&M, Women + Waves surf and swimwear capsule collection.

Our values were aligned and we both immediately agreed that it had to be a sustainable collection and so we jumped on the opportunity to make it happen. We worked together for over 6 months, and we visited the H&M head office in Sweden for a design meeting and liaised online until we were all happy with the collection. Their design team were incredible and also surfed which helped. So we combined all our knowledge together and created something we’re really proud of. 

How does the collaboration fit with the women and waves values?

As surfers, we are naturally super passionate about our oceans and keeping them clean. H&M fully supported us on our values and made the collection sustainable. From our surf wear tops and bikinis being made out of recycled materials and the wetsuit being made out of Yulex which is a type of rubber tree. We also wanted this collection to be for every member of our community, no matter your size, age, background etc. We feel our collection can be worn by everyone comfortably and confidently.

Image © H&M

What’s your favourite piece from the collection?

My favourite piece of the collection is the cropped swim top with the long sleeves and ballerina back which the high waisted bottoms (above). I absolutely adore it! It’s so feminine yet practical! Having the long sleeve really takes the edge off the wind on breezy days.  

Where’s your favourite place in Cornwall to surf?

It will always be my local – Fistral Beach in Newquay. Nothing beats it!

Want more?

Want to win a Women +Waves tshirt (course you do!) – head this way!

Find Women + Waves at

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