Burning Equality in the Surf

A well overdue discussion that happened over on the Still Stoked Instagram, inspired by an incident on Sydney’s Northern Beaches where local charger Biba Turnball was targeted and repeatedly dropped in on. Captured on film by WSL photographer, Matt Dunbar.
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A post shared by S T I L L S T O K E D (@still_stoked)

The Instagram post

6 months ago, WSL photog @mattydunbar came to SS with a story he said had to be told. One that any surfer can relate to, but especially women. In the shadow of last week’s now infamous drop-in by @tatiwest on @moana.17 at pipe, let’s talk about the drop in… but more pointedly, girls blatantly targeted & dropped in by guys in line-up, the world over.

LETS SET THE SCENE : This wasn’t a small day. The waves were heavy, & the takeoff fast & steep. Local surfer @bibaturnbull was the only girl out there. The dawn breaking. Froth levels high. Stoked to see her & capture her barrels on camera, instead Matt watched Biba targeted & dropped in on repeatedly.

We wanted to kickstart a well overdue conversation: Why do some male surfers continue to burn equality in the surf?

Now before you pipe up & say everyone gets dropped in, lets nip that one in the bud. We can all agree on that. Weaker, hesitant surfers after pulling off, or blowing waves will not get a 3rd chance. But this is a conversation about women not getting a 1st chance. This is a conversation about inherent gender targeting.

“They’d look at me, make eye contact, then just drop in on me. In other words: making the call that I, a mere “chick”, wasn’t going to make the wave, so why not drop in.”
@bibaturnbull in an article on @surfline on surf equality.

Further discussion with women around the world repeated Biba’s sentiment… “They assumed as a girl I just couldn’t surf & wasn’t going to make the wave…. they’d sit right on me”.

Words from @mattydunbar

I have been sitting on the images for 6 months wondering what to do with them. The conditions this morning were as good as it gets for this size. Probably my favourite swim at home of all time.. although the surf etiquette was horrendous.

The only girl surfing a heavy beach break, guys would make eye contact with her and proceed to burn her. Repeatedly.

One example I caught on camera was this dickhead bodyboarder. He makes eye contact and then drops in.. Biba had more speed catches up to him and had to pull off. The bodyboarder then got a tidy barrel and came out (which should of been Biba’s barrel). I’m not going to post the barrel photo of the bodyboarder incase it benefits him. The guy knew what he did and paddled in, perhaps satisfied after his barrel.

Words from @still_stoked

So what to say? What’s the go? What possibly make surfers entitled to act like that? The women are charging. They have every right to be out there sitting on the peak as you do. Not only are you the biggest tool in the line up, you’re also gonna get someone seriously hurt (ref Moana’s gripe with Tati at pipe where she hit the ref, last week). Let’s hope 2021 can bring a bit more equality to the line up giving women that 1st and maybe even a 2nd opportunity to take the waves they’ve waited, positioned and paddled for.

On a side note, I (Alexa … although I’m sure @yogasurfmel would back me up), believe that by staying quiet in situations like the one described above, you are somewhat complicit in creating the environment in which bad behaviour will continue to prevail. If safe to do so, call out the drop-ins. Stand up for yourself & don’t let others repeatedly take advantage of you for being a woman in the surf.

We’re interested to hear your stories & solutions. Head over to the Still Stoked Instagram post to join in the discussion. Thank you to everyone who chimed-in, shared their stories, and to all the men and women out there who stick up for those with less of a voice, and stand up to bad behaviour.

Drop in surfing - Biba Turnball dropped in on
Photo by Matt Dunbar. Surfer Biba Turnball
Drop in surfing - Biba Turnball dropped in on
Photo by Matt Dunbar. Surfer Biba Turnball
Drop in surfing - Biba Turnball dropped in on
Photo by Matt Dunbar. Surfer Biba Turnball
Drop in surfing - Biba Turnball dropped in on
Photo by Matt Dunbar. Surfer Biba Turnball
Girl gets dropped in on by guy surfing
Photo by Matt Dunbar. Surfer Biba Turnball

Thanks for reading.

Hiya, I'm Alexa. Always on some sort of adventure! I'm excited to share my stories & introduce you to other rad women, also living the dream. I'm here to inspire you to do the same :-)


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