Women Up – It’s ON for women’s surfing

For the first time ever, women compete in the WSL/SOL’s Big Wave, Puerto Escondido Cup

 

On the same pivotal day that Saudi Arabia lifts the ban on woman driving, Six big wave women paddled out in Puerto Escondido, Mexico making their own leaps for gender equality. They charged down the face of massive waves on surfboards for the first time in competition, at Puerto Escondido. Known as one of the heaviest waves in the world.

 

In a historic decision, the World Surf League and Surf Open League allowed six women a heat of their own in the Puerto Escondido Cup, where waves reached heights of 30-foot faces.

 

Women Big Wave surf competition Puerto Escondido

Isabella Leonhardt going for a bomb to take second place

 

At a time in history when movements like Me Too and women’s marches are calling for massive change around equality and fair treatment for all, these six women stood on top of giants. They risked their lives, and put everything on the line in a call for women everywhere to WOMEN UP! And Women Up they did!

 

We’re all in this together. Women-up!

– 1st place winner, Bianca Valenti

 

The ladies surfed with such confidence and skill that event organiser Gary Linden is quoted in our video below saying that some of the women really stepped it up and some of the women would have gotten through in the men’s event. They didn’t have to change the judging scale at all, with all women judged them equally to the men.  He confirmed that this was the best event for the big wave women, yet!

 

I’m proud of all of the girls. I feel like we were just charging. I’m gonna sleep so good tonight!

– Keala Kennelly

 

We are thrilled to see the balance scales at a tipping point and congratulate the WSL and Open Surf League for taking a big step in the right direction. For this event, the event organiser Gary Linden put up his own money as prize money for the women, as well as confirming a premium Tequila brand The Bad Stuff Tequila to sponsor the future women’s big wave surfing events. We hope that next move in the direction of more sponsorship support for the women and more equal prize money. For this event, first place women took home $1,750 USD while first place men took home $7,000. Although the winning men would have surfed more heats due to the number of men competing, this discrepancy did not go unnoticed in the surfing community amongst men or women. Thank you Gary for being an absolute legend and true supporter of women’s surfing.

 

The risks are the same so why aren’t the prizes the same? I think we deserve it.

– Emily Erickson

 

Bianca Valenti wins Puerto Escondido big wave event

Bianca’s winning foamy barrel

 

The winners

1st place Bianca Valenti (USA)- $1,750

2nd place Isabelle Leonhardt (MEX) – $1,000

3rd place Keala Kennelly (USA) -$500

4th place Raquel Heckert (BRA) -$250

5th place Emily Erickson (USA) – $150

6th place Polly Ralda (GUT) – $100

Watch all the action:

 

Photo gallery from Puerto Escondido

 

Words & photos by Melanie Williams

Read more from Melanie including her hugely successful article on Overcoming the Fear of Wiping Out – In surfing and in life

 


 

What do you think about the big wave women surfing this event? Do you also think they should get equal pay as prize money to the men? How can we show out support?

 

About the author

Melanie Williams

I am a writer and wanna-be big wave surfer. Surfing is my muse. I travel around the world learning to surf better like it’s my job. I write about it and how it’s teaching me to live better. I hold certification as a nutritionist, personal trainer, yoga instructor, and lifeguard instructor.
At 32 I left my stateside life as a yoga studio owner behind to take a solo road trip, surfing through Mexico, as a means to heal from an eating disorder. It set me on this path of a travel/surf blogger. You can read my full story “100 Days in Mexico” here www.melanielainewilliams.com

2 Comments

  • Maybe we would have got our big wave comp earlier if we surfed with our asses out like Alana Blanchard?
    We got the vote 100yrs ago, but STILL don’t have equal pay?? Please fk off wsl.
    Oh and thanks to Alana Blanchard for single handedly destroying the image of female surfing, I hope the 2 mill was worth it🤑
    fking disgraceful 👎

    • It is frustrating but change is happening. The WSL just announced equal pay for women in surfing. Hopefully, along with tennis, volleyball and a small handful of other sports, that will help set a greater precedent for other codes to follow. As for Alana, yeah… she is a product of a fucked system but she definitely had a part in creating and fueling the fire of that system. There is a movie coming out called SHe Change that Sachi Cunningham is making about the change in women’s surfing, especially Big Wave. It will come out this winter. Make sure you check that out!
      Here’s the story on equal pay: https://www.stillstoked.com/feature/equal-pay-womens-surfing-wsl/

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