Super Girl Pro ︱Makena Burke


Makena Burke at the SuperGirl Pro Oceanside. Photo by Vladimir Medvinsky (2021).


It’s been several weeks since the largest all-women’s surf festival, the Supergirl Pro Oceanside, came close, and it was one for the books. The weekend hosted a world-class surfing competition, 15 concerts, and endless female-inspired vendors - all designed to encourage female empowerment, inclusion, and equality.

Makena Burke sitting with her fresh Channel Islands Surfboards. Photographer Unknown.

Ventura-raised surfer, Makena Burke, spent that weekend competing in the surf contest amongst some of the top surfers in the world, such as Olympic surfer Caroline Marks and other icons like Bethany Hamilton and Bettylou Sakura Johnson. After having some time to herself to reflect on the event, I got the chance to chat with Burke and get to know her and the trials of her surfing career.

Makena (right) and teammate Kalohe Danbara (left) placing 1st and 2nd at NSSA nationals. Photo by Ethan Garcia (2022).

"I’m feeling pretty good, it was overall a really fun event," said Burke. "My biggest takeaway from the event was how great it was to see all of my fellow competitors after taking a break from the past couple of contests and making connections with the crowd." Makena Burke reiterated how special it was to be greeted by such a positive and uplifting audience regardless of the results of her heats. Going up against Sawyer Lindblad, who ended up winning the event, Burke was still able to drop some above-average scores. However, it eventually came down to "the luck of the ocean," said Makena Burke. "Sawyer dropped a nine when I had priority - the wave came up in the opposite area of where I was sitting, but that’s just surfing, it’s unpredictable." Despite this, she had so many girls on the beach rooting for her and was able to walk away feeling like a winner.

Makena holding the first ever surf scholarship, awarded to her. Photographer unknown.

Fast-forward to today, and you’ll find Makena Burke going from class to class on the campus of the University of California, San Diego (UCSD). Entering her sophomore year as a public health major, Burke has a busy schedule outside of her surfing career. The surfer has her sights set on one day going to graduate school for medicine, whether that be medical school, dental school, or PA school. However, like most people her age, she’s still weighing her options. With all of this on her plate, she continues to be a key member of the UCSD surf team and competes at all California-located qualifying series contests for the World Surf League (WSL).


Black's Beach, San Diego. Photo by Blair Austin (2022).

She has succeeded in overcoming some of surfing’s challenges because she has been granted the title of surf team president and was recently awarded the first-ever surf scholarship. This came as a complete shock to her as she never imagined surfing and school could coexist in such a way. “I’m super grateful that I’m going to school at a time where the tides are changing, and I’m excited for other people to receive the scholarship and hopefully establish a new generation of surfers,” said Makena Burke. The newly appointed surf team president has big goals for the current school year. She hopes to create more outreach opportunities for herself and the team, such as offering free local surf lessons.

Black's Beach, San Diego. Photo by Kevin Jara (2022).

Additionally, Burke hopes to figure out why the UCSD surf team doesn’t have full access to the school’s local break - Black's Beach. Blacks is arguably one of the best and most consistent beach breaks in California, which remains tucked between multi-million dollar mansions and is protected by a locked gate, to which few in the community have the incredibly coveted key. With Blacks playing such a vital role in the surf team’s existence, it only seems fair that the team is gifted with their key, yet many local politics go into why this key is so elusive, and Makena Burke hopes to get to the bottom of that.


Overall, Burke has a lot to look forward to. With a budding surf career and incredible motivation for school, it leaves many doors open for the young surfer. It’s even got her considering having the best of both worlds and intertwining her two passions. “I think no matter what I do, the connections I’ve made through surfing will help me,” said Makena Burke. “I’ve already seen through UCSD alum who are surfers that there is a way to combine my experience from surfing with my interest in the medical field.”


After speaking with her, I was amazed and found that she is such a great example of determination and duality, going after what she wants while not allowing herself to be defined by any one thing. This is a true testament to the power of female surfing and the communities’ ability to be trailblazers in and out of the water.


If you want to keep up with what Makena Burke is doing, check out her Instagram: @makena_burke, and look out for her in the upcoming WSL qualifying events in Northern California.

Makena’s Spotify Playlist!


 

Katelyn grew up surfing in San Diego, California, and eventually found her way to Santa Barbara, where she started her education in communication at the University of California Santa Barbara. After graduating in June of 2022, Katelyn still enjoys surfing more than ever, skating, snowboarding, camping, and hanging out at the beach. She currently works as the Public Relations and Communication intern for Withitgirl.


Additional Information

Supergirl Pro Website

World Surf League Website

Al Merrick Surfboards


Photography

Vladimir Medvinsky’s Instagram

Blair Austin’s Instagram

Kevin Jara’s Instagram

Maddie Kate’s Instagram

Ethan Garcia’s Instagram


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