Wāhine on Water - Ashleigh Hurring

Wednesday, 13 July 2022

The Wāhine on Water initiative aims to get more female lifeguards trained up to crew and drive inflatable rescue boats (IRBs). The programme pairs less experienced lifeguards with an experienced female IRB mentor, and the events give women an opportunity to expand their boat experience in a supportive, relaxed and fun environment. 

Let’s find out about one of the wonderful wāhine involved in the initiative, Ashleigh Hurring. 

Name: Ashleigh Hurring 

Age: 27 

Club: Fitzroy 

Tell us who you are within SLS: 

I first started surf at the age of 13 when my family moved from Otago to sunny Gizzy. Mum and her brothers had competed for Kaka Point in their sporting days and it was always something that I wanted to get into. I started competing in surf events and found my love of IRBs as a patient for the one and only Waikanae IRB men’s team at that time. Since then, I have dabbled in most aspects of SLS, my main passion stemming from instructing and examining. I am now the current Taranaki Chief Examiner for the SLA Award, a member of the Taranaki Emergency Rescue Squad, Patrol Captain, Peer Supporter, and the Chair of the Local Lifeguarding Committee. When I’m not doing any of the above, you’ll find me in blue as a surf official at competitions, or chilling with Event Guarding Crew in the IRBs. 

Name the three most influential people in your SLS career: 

  1. Diego Pedroli – Diego was my first mentor in SLS. He is an accomplished Instructor/Examiner and very good at what he does. He inspired me to take up the challenge and follow in his footsteps, which is where I found my passion for developing others. He taught me the importance of raising the standard of lifeguards on our beaches, as well as helping people to find their niche in surf. 
  1. Seth McPhee – Mr McFlee is one of my nearest and dearest friends. My respect and admiration for him stem from his wealth of knowledge and skills in basically every aspect of surf. Being someone that likes to take on a challenge, Seth has without a doubt contributed to my determination to prove that women in surf can do just as much (if not more) than men. He probably doesn’t even realise it but he has been a great mentor in the Instructing, Event Guarding and Search & Rescue space (just don’t tell him that otherwise, his head won’t fit through the door ). 
  1. Adam Fraser – I first met Adam as a candidate at National Lifeguard School. His knowledge, experience and involvement in SLS and SAR were always something to admire, and when I moved to Taranaki, I was looking for something new to reignite my passion for the organisation. As someone who froths development and creating opportunities for anyone with the tenacity to go for it, Adam helped me to find my feet again and has given me the confidence to take on roles/opportunities that I otherwise would not have. He’s been my biggest sounding board and through this process has been my biggest critic, always pushing me to aim higher, but as always is one of my greatest supporters. Together we make a fantastic Chief Examiner team, and I thank him for not only what he has done for me but also for his years of dedication to SLS and SAR. 

What’s been your scariest SLS moment: 

We’ve all been over the falls a few too many times or had the boat stuck in a couple of sticky situations before, but one of those scary moments that you can laugh about that I remember was at North Island IRB’s (Waihi). Six-foot plus, surf, messy, borderline still dark as Dave Clarke and myself were starting to set the straddle line. We THOUGHT that we were out the back but along came a mother of all waves, the motor was turned off, a boat full of anchors ropes and buoys. Man, I have never seen anyone jump from the back of the boat to the front so quickly as we held on for dear life while the wave broke on top of us. We narrowly escaped haha. 

WOW moment/favourite SLS memory: 

That’s a hard one because I have so many amazing memories over the past 14 years. But one of my proudest moments involving an IRB would definitely have to be winning the Senior and then a couple of years later the Premier women’s tube rescue for IRBs. When we began, we were the only team racing from Gisborne with little support, we relied on other clubs to share their tents with us, and as a small IRB family, we worked so hard to gain those titles that when it actually happened it was one of the most amazing accomplishments ever. 

What does Wahine on Water mean to you: 

Empowerment… WOW encourages females in surf to give it a go without the stigma surrounding certain roles. It encourages equality and having opportunities without being overshadowed by the presence of males. It encourages females to get involved no matter your skill level, to be your own standout figure, and to have the confidence to have fun in a safe environment with like-minded females. Whether it’s to do with IRBs or not, I like to think that WOW is now challenging females in SLS to break those stereotypes, give it ago, and learn as much as possible while doing it. Ultimately, Wahine on Water is led by some fantastic female leaders in our organisation, and we hope to make plenty more while having fun doing it! 

What advice would you give to yourself when you first joined SLS: 

Enjoy every moment! SLS is one massive family and with it comes numerous friendships and connections. Getting involved in any aspect of surf brings growth, personal development, teamwork, a whole lot of memories and a lifelong passion. 

Life outside of SLSC: 

Outside of SLS, I am a Clinical Pharmacist working at Taranaki Base Hospital. I am currently based on the medical wards, as well as being the nutrition support pharmacist, and aim to become a Pharmacist Prescriber in Cardiology. I also used to volunteer on the ambulance as a first responder before getting back into and heavily involved in surf. But lately, I have become the proud fur mum to Oscar the dog, who now takes up all my spare time when I’m not gyming or enjoying the outdoors.