Thursday, November 11, 2010

First big wave contest for women!!

The New York Times reported on the first ever women's big wave surfing comp. Excellent news, huh!
With a smattering of locals and members of the news media, flocks of pelicans, a spouting gray whale and some of the best male riders in the world looking on along the central Oregon coast, three women charged down 20- to 25-foot-high waves in the first female heat of the Nelsott Reef Big Wave Classic, one of five stops on the male-dominated Big Wave World Tour.
And they even reported that,

Male surfers agreed it was high time for women to have a competition like this to compete in.

“These girls are putting in time around the world,” West said, “and they deserve more.”

Cool. However, there were a few jolting sections to the article that I think should be highlighted. For example, this is an interesting paragraph,
Officially an exhibition, with no prize money, the competition had the look of something that was thrown together at the last minute. All competitors, men and women, learned only last Saturday that a low-pressure system in the North Pacific was throwing off sizable swells and that the event would be scheduled for Tuesday. Men had been invited as early as Oct. 1, but many of the women learned only a week before the event. As a result, there were some noticeable absences, including Sarah Gerhardt, who in 1999 became the first woman to surf Mavericks; Brazil’s Maya Gabeira; and Jamilah Star of California.
Oh. Well, still - it's a great opportunity! And isn't it great that companies and competition organisers are beginning to recognise and include these cool, brave and persistent women in competitions that should already have been including them. I mean, it's so great that they are giving women the opportunity to do the things they love, right! Exactly! These women are strong, committed and courageous and I mean, that's the point right, to focus on their feats as surfers?
The Big Wave Tour director, Gary Linden, said he thought female surfers would expand the sport’s reach.

“If we have beautiful women surfing big waves, people are going to want to know about it,” Linden said.

Gary!! Seriously, STOP!! They deserve more credit than that. You're ruining everything! Luckily, Keala Kenelly had some words to say too. At the end of the article, she is discussing the heat they surfed,

I watched fellow competitor Savanah Shaugnessy turn and paddle for a set, but she was too deep. Later, Savanah and I split a peak and then shared another set wave. With five minutes left, they asked if we wanted a twenty-minute extension. The competitor in my head was saying, “No way KK. You’ve got this thing won.” At that point, I had three good waves, Savanah had a good wave and a wipeout, and Mercedes had yet to catch a wave.

I then asked myself what would be best for women’s surfing. Mercedes still needed to catch a wave. We asked for the extension, and with two minutes left, Mercedes got one of the biggest waves of the heat. We returned to the beach with big smiles on our faces, high-fiving each other for our efforts out there. Even though I walked away with a trophy engraved with the title “Top Chick,” I think women’s surfing was the big winner that day. I dedicated my win to my childhood friend and hero, Andy Irons.

Imagine being in a position where you are willing to forfeit your win for the good of women's surfing. That is just so great I could cry. I can't imagine being in a place in my life where I carry so much responsibility for so many people. The more I hear about certain women at the elite level of surfing, the more I admire them for not only their surfing, but for their dedication to women's surfing as a whole, and to growing, developing and encouraging it broadly.

Anyway, congratulations ladies - you rock! And I'm always stoked to see more opportunities like this for women to get some kind of recognition for their efforts!

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