Puerto Escondido, Mexico is known for having some of the biggest breaks in the world. And this year, the competition opened its doors to both genders. Surfing’s elite women had their own heat on Sunday – a first for Latin America.
“I was so freaking excited,” said third place finisher Keala Kennelly, “Not having a hundred guys out, and taking any wave I want, I was like frothing. I am proud of all the girls. They were charging.”
The event marks a step toward gender equality in big wave surfing. Just a few years ago, there wasn’t a single women’s big wave surf competition, but a group of determined women sought to change that. And it’s been a long time coming.
Unfortunately, the pay differential is still staggering – winner Bianca Valenti took home only a fraction of the money that was awarded to male winner Lucas Chianca. “The risks are the same so why aren’t the prizes the same? I think we deserve it,” asked competitor Emi Erickson, who surfed the same 20 to 30 foot swells as the guys.
So, here’s to hoping other competitions start including woman’s heats and compensating them equally, because these ladies are badasses.