Who are we?
Hi! My name is Jess Laing. I am the owner and head coach of Girls On Board. Growing up on Phillip Island I was introduced to the ocean at a very young age. I surfed my first wave when dad pushed me into a little knee high peeler in Byron Bay as a 4 year old and have never looked back. I fell in love with the beach, surfing and the lifestyle that surrounds it.
Both my Dad and older brother have successful competitive surfing backgrounds and at 8 years old I thought “why can’t I do that?” And that’s when I decided I was going to be a competitive surfer. I spent the next 10 years surfing, training and basing my life around competitions as well as juggling school. There were a few hiccups along the way, I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue at the age of 12 (which ended up lasting 6 and a half years) and I truly believe it was surfing that pulled me through. It became more than just a ‘sport’; it was my therapy and my happy time.
I continued to surf and compete for the next few years. In 2008, local cinematographer Claire Gorman approached Nikki Van Dijk, India Payne and myself. We ended up putting a lifestyle documentary together called ‘First Love’. During filming I injured my shoulder and ended up having to get a shoulder reconstruction. I was land bound for 7 months and once I got back in the water I had lost that fire to compete. I learned to appreciate the lifestyle I live and ended up doing it all for fun and the love of it.
First Love took us up the east coast of Australia premiering and touring. It also screened in cinemas Australia wide as well as hitting the T.V screens in USA and Australia.
Surfing has given me so much; I wanted to pass my experience and knowledge and share my passion with others.
I watched women’s surfing grow and expand, but I could see that there still wasn’t enough support and encouragement for girls who are learning and coming up the ranks.
I wanted to create my own Surf School, not excluding guys, but focusing on providing girls with the means and know-how to make a start.
I have worked hard and in 2012 I turned this dream into reality. I hope that if you give it a chance, surfing will give you as much as its given me!