At a young age, Molly Tuschen of University City watched her father and brother surf. She decided she wanted to be in the ocean, too, rather than stand on the beach.

About 10 years later, she’s earned the respect of her peers and is paddling out with the best of them. This weekend, she’s at the World Surf League‘s 16th annual Nissan Super Girl Surf Pro.

“It definitely took me a few years to earn my spot in the lineup and hold my own against the guys,” said the 19-year-old. Surfing in the girls circuit has let her travel all over the world, experiencing different cultures.

Being a female in a male-dominated sport has been “awesome,” Tuschen said. “I love seeing girls surf. It’s super empowering.”

This year’s event, featuring past world champions, pushed off Friday for a three-day run south of the Oceanside Pier.

Among the entrants in Saturday’s heats is UC San Diego student Makena Burke, recipient of the first college surfing scholarship ever recognized by the National Scholastic Surfing Association.

The nationally televised event, which calls itself the largest female surf contest in the world, has free admission.

The event — daily 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. through Sunday (although surfing halts mid-afternoon) —gives surfers a chance to rack up points toward eligibility in the world circuit.

Daya McCart, 14, who won her heat Friday, has been surfing all of her life, becoming competitive at age 11. She is following in the footsteps of her father and uncle, who was a professional surfer.

Saying she wanted to surf better than male counterparts, McCart said surfing is “super cool, like I love it.”

The Super Girl Surf Pro is “a really important event for the women, especially California women to have a platform because surfing is not the most friendly sport for female surfers, said Shannon Quirk, the event’s webcast announcer.

“On any given day as a surfer, you’re normally outnumbered and sometimes you’re the only girl in the lineup,” Quirk continued. “So to have an event like this, where it’s all about women, it’s much more inviting and welcoming to create a stage for women only also makes everyone feel more confident and comfortable.”

Super Girl Surf Pro has been from the beginning all about empowering girls and lifting them up and letting them know they have a place in the sport, and following their dreams to possibly pursue a career in surfing, Quirk said.

Among the entrants are shark-attack survivor Bethany Hamilton, 32, Caroline Marks, Sage Erickson, Caitlin Simmers (Oceanside), Alyssa Spencer (Carlsbad) and Samantha Sibley (San Clemente).

In the past surfing only had men’s divisions, Quirk explained. Slowly, year after year, there would be a little bit more space made but maybe no prize money for the women.

Quirk said: “You could even see it the US Open of Surfing, the biggest surf event in the world and at Huntington Beach. That event only a few years ago had $100,000 Check for the men and $10,000 for the women, she said.

Since 2018, male and female surfers get equal prize money in competitions, Quirk said.

“I also hope it encourages their parents to see how good it is for their health and for their confidence in general just to be a well rounded person,” she added.

Molly Tuschen, asked how she sees female participation in surfing, said: “It’s just continuing to grow more and more. So it’s super exciting to see and I can’t wait to see the future.”

Also set is an elite longboarding competition with 48 of the top female pros and up-and-coming stars. World champions Honolua Blomfield, Summer Romero, Soleil Errico and Jen Smith headline also are in the field alongside 2021 Super Girl Longboarding Champion, Kirra Seale.

The event also boasts a Festival Village with 15 live concerts and family activities:

  • The annual Super Girl Gamer esports tournament
  • An all-female DJ Competition
  • A women’s beach soccer tournament
  • Free classes in fitness, yoga, Zumba, Pilates, wellness and dance.
  • Female comediennes
  • Celebrity speakers
  • Panel discussions promoting female leadership and sustainability
  • A female art exhibition
  • A mentorship event for young surfers with five-time world champion Carissa Moore and her Moore Aloha Foundation.  
  • And autograph signings, a beer garden and food court and a military appreciation program

Music acts include The Offspring, Smash Mouth, Hoobastank, The Expendables and Kira Kosarin.  

“We are thrilled to have such an exciting and diverse lineup of activities at the event in addition to world-class surfing,” said Rick Bratman, CEO of ASA Entertainment, the event’s producer. “To have artists like The Offspring, Smash Mouth, Hoobastank, The Expendables and Kira Kosarin performing and using their voices to help promote Super Girl’s empowerment platform is absolutely incredible.”

The event will be televised throughout November and December on Bally Sports and streamed live Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. via 15 digital partners.

For more information on the concert lineup, surfing, classes, schedules, esports and more, visit To connect via social media, follow @SupergirlPro on Instagram, Facebook, TikTok and Twitter.