Janet MacPherson, a Kind of First Wave Feminist in Surfing, Dies at 84

“Only the burliest men could handle the big hardwood surfboards of the first half of the 20th century,” he said. But by the time Ms. MacPherson was a teenager, some board makers were trying different materials and more manageable designs. “So Janet was in the right place to benefit from shorter, lighter surfboards,” he noted.

Another development at the time was the creation of the wet suit. One of Ms. MacPherson’s friends was Jack O’Neill, a pioneer in manufacturing and marketing the gear, which made surfing in cold water bearable. But in her early days, Ms. MacPherson said, she came up with her own solution to the temperature problem.

“We used to go to the thrift stores and buy cashmere sweaters and wear them out in the water to keep warm,” she told Whalebone.

Though Mr. O’Neill was a friend, she always preferred warm water. “I hate wet suits with a passion,” she admitted.

Ms. MacPherson and her friends traveled the world surfing, and in the 1960s she found herself in Australia and New Zealand, where she met and married Tim Murdoch, a fellow surfer and Mr. MacPherson’s father. Although the marriage ended in divorce, she was in New Zealand long enough be crowned its women’s surfing champion in 1965.

When she wasn’t surfing, she was developing a modest real estate business, acquiring rental properties in Malibu.

A favorite surfing spot for Ms. MacPherson and her son was Shipwreck, off the Baja peninsula in Mexico. While on a trip there in 1981, she met Stephen Farbus, who was on a surfing trip of his own. They married in 2003. In addition to him and her son, she is survived by a sister, Marie MacPherson, and two grandchildren.

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