Belinda Baggs is standing on the beach holding her son Rayson by the stretchy rubber of his wetsuit collar. He was struggling to slide into his suit, so mom’s using a little trick called gravity to get the job done. He bobs midair like a rock suspended in a sling shot before finally sinking into the suit. And in that moment, he’s superman – running down the beach like a madman with a cloud of sand at his heels as Ms. Belinda Baggs, an Australian beacon of logging elegance, trails a few paces behind. His energy is unmatched. But Bindy, as her friends call her, manages.
I will never forget the first image I saw of Belinda Baggs. It was a Surfer’s Journal cover shot by Dane Peterson – a little out of focus, speed-blurrish in all the right ways with Belinda perched elegantly on the nose of her board. Knees together, hips tilted at a forty five degrees to the horizon, and arms splayed just-so – the photo captures the trim and balance of a nose ride like nothing I’d ever seen. While at the Byron Surf Festival, we spent a few days with Belinda Baggs, a Newcastle native who once placed 3rd in the World Longboard Championships and has starred in many of Thomas Campbell’s films. In that time it became apparent that she navigates life as a mother and iconic-longboarder-turned-actual-Patagonia-employee (with a desk and everything) with similar aplomb.
“It’s such a great experience to be able to share the experience with a child,” says Baggs. “Being a surfing mom is really amazing. Sometimes tough. I guess it’s almost like an internal battle of like ‘Do I be really selfish and surf myself or do I take him surfing and let it go? Obviously, most of the time I choose to let it go and surf with him. And it brings a lot of calm and makes you go back to your roots of surfing, and remember when I learned and what it was all about, which was just having fun, being family, and enjoying the ocean.”
While Belinda Baggs says she doesn’t necessarily view herself as a leader in women’s surfing, it’s precisely her demure demeanor and palpable passion for being in the ocean – she’s also developed a nasty bodysurfing habit – that makes it so. Intentionally or not, as she balances Rayson (literally) on her back while juggling a 9’ 0” single-fin and a career that enables her to do the things she loves, she leads by example.
“I don’t really see surfing as gender specific,” says Baggs. “When I’m in the lineup, I just feel like I’m a surfer. I don’t want special hand outs because I’m a girl, and I don't expect to have waves taken off me because I’m a girl. I really don’t see myself different than any other mom or any other person that’s out there surfing or parenting. Once you cross that shore, it doesn’t matter whether you’re a see ear or whether your wealthy or whether you’re a mom, or how much money you make, or whether you’re a man or a woman, the ocean evens us all out."