Jorja and Jolene Smith of San Clemente are starting only their second year on the women's professional surfing tour, but they have already made a name for themselves.
The name isn't usually Jorja or Jolene, however. They're more commonly known as "The Twins," and they like it that way.
These are not the sort of twins who felt the need to develop dramatically different identities to maintain their mental health. These 20-year-old sisters are so close that their definition of a major rebellion against conformity was the time in high school Jorja cut her hair short and Jolene left hers a little longer.
They're so close that they bet exactas together at Del Mar Race Track, where their mother works, and split the winnings. The same goes for their surfing earnings.
They're so close that the only Family Feud they can remember was an appearance on the television game show, where they won $1,500 and received identical kisses from Richard Dawson.
The most prominent word in their vocabulary tends to be "we," closely followed by "each other."
"We have the same car, the same room, the same sport, the same friends and we share clothes," said Jolene, the younger by three minutes. "There aren't any disadvantages except when people say, 'You have to be individuals and you shouldn't do everything alike.' But we've always been that way, and we don't know any other way to be."
Their relationship has seen its share of waves, but few of the emotional variety.
"There's no rivalry at all," Jorja said.
Jolene added: "Jorja's always there to give me support and tell me not to give up. We're lucky to have each other. We're not only sisters, we're best friends."
For the Smiths, the only thing wrong with pro surfing is that it allows just one winner, a basic tenet of competition that goes against the grain of their cooperative relationship.
Their wave-riding abilities are so nearly equal that both are considered challengers for the title in the biggest surfing contest in the continental United States, the Op Pro. The women's contest begins today at Huntington Beach and continues through Sunday.
Jolene, who placed ninth in last year's Op Pro, will compete in the trials today. Jorja, who came up through the trials last year to earn second place behind Jodie Cooper of Australia, will open with the main event Friday.
Last year's Op Pro was the first indication that the Smiths would experience success in their first year on the world tour. Jorja finished fifth in the Assn. of Surfing Professionals' rankings for 1985-86 and was named Rookie of the Year. Jolene, who earned their only first-place finish of the season in the Marui contest in Japan, was not far behind in the year-end rankings, in the 10th spot.
The pair decided to turn professional in December 1984, after one or the other had won almost everything possible as amateurs. Their favorite scenario, placing first and second, had become almost routine.
At the peak of their amateur careers, Jolene was ranked No. 1 and Jorja was No. 2 as members of the National Scholastic Surfing Assn. team, to which they were selected three times.
In 1983, they had been co-captains of the San Clemente High School surfing team. The Tritons won the state team title after Jorja placed first in the state and Jolene placed second. When they competed in the state college championships for Saddleback College, Jorja won and Jolene came in second.
But the price of remaining amateurs was high. In order to send them on the annual NSSA trip to Hawaii, which cost $2,000, their parents had to organize raffles in which local restaurants donated meals and merchants chipped in wet suits, surfboards and skis.
At the end of the summer of 1984, Jorja and Jolene competed as amateurs in two professional contests, creating a considerable splash. In the Michelob Cup in Del Mar, Jolene took second and Jorja was ninth. In the Hang Ten, Jorja was second and Jolene was third.
They had just turned 19 and it seemed to be time to try to make a career of it.
"We were turning down a lot of money because we couldn't accept it (as amateurs)," Jorja said. "So finally we just said, 'Let's go for it."
Jolene added: "We also wanted to turn pro because we had done so well on the amateur level, it was almost like we were dominating. If we would have stayed, we probably would have gotten really stagnant and lazy. We felt it would be more challenging to be competing with the pros."
Jorja said: "We felt we had been on the national team two years--and we'd just been picked for our third year--and we thought it was time to let the other girls have a chance on the team."
They made an auspicious debut on the local Professional Surfing Assn. of America circuit. Jorja led the standings for 1985 and Jolene finished third. After a bit of initial difficulty finding corporate sponsorship, people started seeking them out.
That illustrated the positive aspect of public recognition as twins. When they were children, it didn't seem so profitable.