Easkey Britton has ridden swells across the globe, from her native Ireland to Tahiti. But in 2010, she jetted to lesser-known waters off the southeast coast of Iran. After hearing there might be surfable waves there, Britton and her friend Marion Poizeau, a filmmaker, headed to Baluchistan. "Iran is not high on a surfer's bucket list," says Britton, 29. "But I figured, why not?" She donned a swim-friendly hijab and hopped on her board, likely becoming the first woman to surf in the country.

After Poizeau posted a video of Britton's ride online, demand for surfing in Iran led the duo to found Waves of Freedom, a nonprofit that helps empower girls and women through the sport. Britton has since traveled back to Iran several times to teach and bring equipment: "I push the limit of how many boards I can carry on a plane without the airline busting my ass!"

Until this year, it was forbidden for women in Iran to attend sporting events if men were present, and females still must cover their heads in public. It often takes some encouragement to get students out in the water, Britton says: "One girl was really shy. But with her brother and father watching, we think she became the first local Baluchi girl ever to surf!" While there might be challenges ahead, Britton's not daunted. "I know now that trusting myself is more important than fear—and that also applies to the waves."


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