The rough-and-tumble sport was born in Laguna Beach more than half a century ago, and men have long dominated. In June, the inaugural professional world championship for women will be held in Laguna.
Sprinting toward the surf, Shonna Cobb flings a fiberglass board onto the wet sand. With a springy assurance, she leaps atop the narrow 4-foot-long board and glides into an approaching wave. In the seconds that follow, she will have to calculate the wave’s advance and the body movements required to sustain enough speed and balance to skim over its 4-foot face and into the air.