Jen Smith

From organic coffee to photography and art, the Café feels just like home. Jen rolls out of bed to grace us with her presence on a cool flat winter morning to fill us in on what she’s been up to. First, she would like everyone to know that she is currently growing her hair out. Now, we can get down to business.
    Jen comes from a long lineage of San Diego locals. Jen, third generation, is a true Californian.
    “Most people are shocked to learn that I’m from here and my parents are from here, even my grandparents are from here,” Jen said.”
    Jen grew up in San Diego first living in Claremont. She then luckily moved to the beach with her family at the age of 10. The family moved four blocks from the ocean and about a mile away from Crystal Pier. For Jen it wasn’t long before she would find her way down to the beach and ridding the waves.
    “When I was younger I surfed there almost everyday. When I was about the age of 14 to 17 I surfed there at least once a day,” Jen said.
    Crystal Pier is known for its fun, wedgey lefthanders that break on the pier’s north side. Though, Jen contests that, “there’s a nice right that goes into the pier, it’s a quick ride before you have to kick out. I’ve lost a couple of boards to the pier.”
     Borrowing dad’s boards and tagging along with her brother and cousins was the life of the soon to be ripping grommet.
    My dad surfs, he’s been surfing since he was 12 years old. My brother surfs as well as my cousins, so I pretty much grew up in a surfing family,” Jen said.
    After borrowing surfboards from her dad, there came a time when Jen was ready to get her first board. She had the opportunity that most people can only dream of. She had a custom shaped board by Mr. Rusty Preisendorfer himself. Jen’s dad was an old friend of Rusty’s and she was not only able to get a board custom shaped by him, but she was allowed to watch him shape it!
    “The board was a 6’10 squash tail, kind of egg shaped and fat,” she said.
    This surfboard was the beginning of her surfing style that would eventually evolve into where she is today. Jen didn’t really like how the 6’10 worked out for her.
    “I couldn’t catch as many waves on that board as I could on a long board. That’s why I’m more drawn to a longboard than a short board, strictly because I could catch more waves and get longer rides,” Jen said.
    There was a good solution to cure the craving of catching more waves. The ultimate solution for Jen -- a longboard. Once again good ole’ dad pulled through with another hook-up. This time he helped Jen get a good longboard and found her a 9’0 shaped by Shawn Ambrose. The longboard was a little different than most classic single fin set-ups. This board had a 2 plus1 set-up, two side fins and a single box built for a large center fin.
    “I’m glad it wasn’t a single fin, I still wouldn’t ride a single fin. I think that’s what sets me apart from other female long boarders,” she said.
    Jen had to adapt her desire for catching a lot of waves on a longboard and learn how to ride the 9’0 in mostly beach break. This has proved to be one of the main factors that has helped shaped Jen’s style.
    “Yeah, [I’m] a little more aggressive, with definitely less of a ‘classic’ style. There is a time and a place. I grew up surfing a beach break. You’re lucky if you even have time to get on the nose at a beach break, so you finish off the wave with a nice floater, or hitting a section is my favorite thing to do,” Jen said.
    Adapting her longboarding to surf beach breaks is one influence on Jen’s style. Another is the different people she surfs with. Jen has had the opportunity to surf with people who all have different styles and approaches to surfing.
    “I like to surf with longboarders because they’re doing what I’m doing. We feed off each other. We watch each other and try to imitate it or try to take it a step further. Growing up I surfed with mostly shortboarders. So mimicking the maneuvers that they did and trying to do that on a longboard, while still definitely trying to keep my longboard style,” she said.
    Jen’s favorite surfer is Malibu transplant turned San Diegan Kassia Meador. “I think we have a similar approach to surfing. We’re always trying to push ourselves and each other. We are always trying to do something different than everyone else. I would say that we have a healthy rivalry in the water. It’s good to have someone to push you,” she said.
    At the tender age of 19, Jen has been competing for almost 10 years. She started competing in local club competitions at the age of 10. Her competitive drive drove her to a pro career that started at 15 and she has been going full throttle since then. Her pro career has had some highs and lows, but this year bore the fruit of her hard work and dedication. “This has been my best year so far,” Jen said. “I’ve done about six contests and I’ve made into the finals in all of them. Before I was lucky to make a semi-final, but this year I’ve made all the finals. I’ve been training more than ever, she comments”
    This year Jen was able to compete in France at Biarritz for her first World Title ASP sanctioned event. Anyone that’s been to the south of France might agree that it’s one of the most beautiful beaches they have ever seen. “There are big cliffs and beautiful beaches aligned with gardens as you walk down to the beach. It’s magical, really amazing. There are really good beach breaks all over the place,” Jen said.
    Jen’s second place finish added to the beauty of it all.
    “It was really amazing because not only was it the first time I made it into the finals, but that out of 70 women that were competing, I ended up surfing against a girl that grew up down the street from me. So there we were, in France surfing a beautiful beach break together in a major surfing event,” she said.
    The fact that the ASP has decided to sanction events is a huge milestone for many dedicated athletes. This movement made by the professional organization has sparked hope and optimism for the next generation of female longboarders. “The ASP sanction added much more validity to the event and to women’s long boarding. I feel that we are more recognized and respected in the surfing community,” Jen stated.
    Jen has been focusing on building her strengths and endurance by cross training. Two day’s a week Jen goes to help out around the house at her grandma’s. The house is located a little inland so Jen goes running down the local canyon. She’s also been experimenting with different forms of strength training including riding track bikes. For those of us who don’t know, a track bike has only one gear and no brakes forcing the rider to control their own speed by using their legs. This will no doubt give Jen the monster leg power needed to give her the edge she needs in competition. The ultimate fun and all around training is of course the sector nine skateboard. Jen’s dad, our new hero, owns Soul Grind Skate Shop in P.B. Jen’s been sponsored by them and riding their boards for years.
    “I always thought that skateboarding is a good cross over training technique. It’s a good way to
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