From the deck of her parents’ boat in Tampa Bay, GiGi Lucas grew up watching orange sherbet sunsets and the nautical wonders of the ocean.

Lucas always loved being in the water, but it wasn’t until she was 35 that she discovered the true beauty of learning to surf in it.

SurfearNEGRA is a nonprofit organization out of Jacksonville, founded by GiGi Lucas, to encourage, educate and engage more women and girls of color in the sport of surfing. Anact and SurfearNEGRA are teaming up to break stigmas and stereotypes and are trying to get more African Americans to enjoy the ocean.

“I was at a friend’s wedding in Costa Rica and everybody went zip-lining,” she said. “I went surfing. I never considered surfing as an option when I was a kid. I decided in my 20s that I wanted to learn how to surf before I turned 40. The wedding in Costa Rica was the perfect opportunity.”

Anact founder Brianna Kilcullen, left, designed these tote bags, available for $35, using hemp and organic cotton, so they are being environmentally conscious. Proceeds from the sale of the bag will be used to send kids of color to surf camps in a project from GiGi Lucas, right. Malcolm Jackson, center, photographed Lucas on American Beach at Amelia Island for the image on the tote bag.

Three years later, Lucas — a woman of color — created the 501c3 nonprofit, SurfearNEGRA, and has collaborated with Jacksonville neighbor Brianna Kilcullen’s company, Anact, on a venture to help introduce Black girls to the sport, break stigmas and stereotypes, and “diversify the lineup.”

“If a girl walking down the street can see that image (of me surfing), and she looks like me,” said Lucas, “we can make it accessible.”

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