How to treat a girl, deal with a shark, and not look like a kook when you paddle out

Pro surfer and East London native Rosanne Hodge, (known as Rosy), grew up surfing with an older brother who saw her talent and constantly pushed her. By age eight, Hodge was sponsored by Quiksilver’s emerging surf apparel sister brand, Roxy. Thanks to their brothers, both Roxy and Rosy have grown their profile considerably since.

Sharpening her skills along East London’s wave-rich right-hand point and reef breaks, Hodge carved a name for herself under the tutelage of native pros like four times World Champ Wendy Botha, Greg Emslie and Royden Bryson, both World Tour campaigners. No surprise then that she’s amassed nine South African Championship titles and spent four consecutive years on the ASP Women’s World Championship Tour.

Between touching down in Cape Town and then leaving four days later to add more stamps to her passport, we hooked up with the girl whose beauty-routine is nothing more than a daily sunscreen application and is so low-maintenance that you need only water her every day.

Rosy Hodge airs her views:

On women in the water…

Do I ever use my womanly ways to get waves? Ha, everyday! I don’t think it’s more difficult being a female surfer. The best thing about surfing is that it’s your interpretation of how you want to ride a wave, and there’s a mutual respect that comes with being in the water with everyone. I think nowadays with the level of women’s surfing the girls are getting a lot more respect.

On catching more waves…

Reading the conditions is important. Before my brother and I were allowed to paddle out anywhere, my dad used to make us watch the waves so we knew how they were breaking. Most of the time the person getting the most waves is the one who knows how the bank is working and is timing the sets properly.

On dealing with locals…

You have to paddle out at a new break with respect for whoever is in the line-up. Don’t be greedy. Always be friendly. I find an encouraging hoot when someone gets a good wave also helps. [Ed: And those dimples can’t hurt either, eh?].

On not looking like a kook…

Spend lots of time in the water. And if you are a beginner be mindful of the other surfers. Maybe even go find a foamie just a little way down the beach before planting yourself in the line-up.

On dealing with a shark…

About two years ago Greg Emslie and I were surfing the break in front of my house – Queensbury Point. It was perfect. I was paddling back from a wave when I heard Greg shout. I thought he was stoked about my wave, but as I got a closer look I saw two massive fins in front of him. He kept telling me to go in so I caught a wave and rode it straight over the rocks. When I saw him coming in over the rocks he was clearly in shock and kept saying he wished he had said goodbye to his wife and kids. I ran home and cried my eyes out. When I spoke to Greg an hour later he told me that he had been circled by a three-metre Great White, maintaining eye contact the entire time as the animal waited for a reaction to set off its attack instinct. He’d stayed calm and managed a one-stroke paddle into a wave to escape.