Layne Beachley

Cape Solander, 13 May 2009. Sequence, Billy Morris via Coastalwatch.

Layne Beachley is someone who just seems to rub people up the wrong way. And sure, I've seen her do some things and heard her say some things where I just thought, 'Really?' But I have also seen and heard many famous surfers do and say things that made me shake my head, so I don't really pay Layne's moments too much heed. But for some reason, other people do, and they really rub their dislike of her in her face.

And the sad effect of this has been that she doesn't get the credit that she deserves for her role in  driving and building the profile of competitive surfing in Australia, and in particular the opportunities that many professional female surfers now enjoy. I wouldn't say she is the patron saint of women's surfing - not at all - but I would say that because people don't like her, they don't want to acknowledge her achievements and impact. She rips, she was world champion seven times, she has caught some impressive and heavy waves (including those pictured in this post from her session at Cape Solander in May 2009), and from 2006-2013 she started and ran a competition for women that had the highest prize pool on the women's side of the ASP World Championship Tour - $140,00) in 2012. (As of this year, that competition has been cancelled due to lack of sponsors.)

Cape Solander, 13 May 2009. Image Tim Bonython via Coastalwatch.

Layne constantly advocates for recognition of women's surfing in the media, in the industry, and financially. One woman who surfed on the tour at the same time as Layne told me that as world champion,  Layne felt a responsibility to argue up the money she was earning from sponsors as she felt that she had to set the bar for what other women could earn. And whether you like her or not, that kind of thinking and effort is something that deserves recognition of its own.


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