Visit Santa Cruz County is commemorating International Women’s Day this year with professional surfer and Santa Cruz native Autumn Hays. “Representing Santa Cruz, especially as a woman, is awesome,” she said. Fresh off her first place win in the World Surf League Qualifying Series, this milestone victory was also a way for her to honor her hometown. Find out what this inspirational young surfer loves about Santa Cruz County.
Visiting with Santa Cruz Native and Surf Pro Autumn Hays
For 19-year old Santa Cruz native and local resident Autumn Hays, earning first place in last year’s World Surf League Qualifying Series in Iquique, Chile was the highlight of her professional surfing career in many ways. Her win – with a prize package of $10,000 – was the first time in World Surf League history that a female surfer was awarded equal prize money as her male counterpart: a poignant reminder of feminine strength on International Women’s Day.
“If I could tell young girls who want to try surfing one thing, it would be not to be afraid. Even though it can be really intimidating because there are not as many girls who surf, just catch some waves, and prove to them that you can surf,” she explained.
International Women’s Day brings with it the idea that collective action and shared ownership drive gender parity.
“Representing Santa Cruz, especially as a woman, is awesome,” she said. Hays competition schedule includes traveling to surfing hotspots like Australia, Japan, and Tahiti, among other places. But, she always looks forward to returning to Santa Cruz. This classic California beach town – the birthplace of mainland surfing – is her home. And she feels just as comfortable at Steamer Lane, an iconic break and one of the best places in the United States to surf.
“The waves in Santa Cruz are insane! Nearly every day of the year, there are good waves to be found. Surfing is the official lifestyle of Santa Cruz. Check out Davenport where you’ll discover gorgeous, uncrowded beaches. It’s also home to my favorite spot to eat, Whale City Bakery. Their berry croissant is amazing. I’ll enjoy that and some coffee before I hit the waves!”