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When the ASP announced the women’s tour dates I thought, how could it go from a heat at Pipeline last year to no events in Hawaii 2011. Yes, Stephanie Gilmore, Tyler Wright, Alana Blanchard and Coco Ho surfed competitively at Pipe last year. No, I am not talking about Blue Crush the movie, it actually happened.

This year, what are the women’s highlights? Steph posing naked for ESPN instead. I agree that if you’ve got it, flaunt it and I do think Alana looks super hot in her bikini bottoms, but I would much rather watch her surf.

There are barely any women’s surf videos, so I enjoy watching the girls compete. Watching the best female surfers in the world pushing their surfing to new heights is inspirational. It motivates me to go out and surf better, to challenge myself.

And what did a heat at Pipe cost the sponsors? 25 minutes and some prize money, and not a lot of prize money at that. The money put up is most likely less than a contribution to fund the listing of a range of surf branded beanie hats in the Argos catalogue.

The biggest disappointment is that the surf industry itself openly demonstrates considerable bias. This is easily illustrated by the attached chart, with women’s events having to find alternative supporters rather than industry sponsors.


The reason given that marketing budgets are being slashed during the recession, therefore women’s surfing has to take the hit is a poor excuse, and a short sighted one. An investment made now, however small grows into something much larger. It reassures a younger generation of women that their leisure pursuits are just as worthwhile, and they, of course will invest in equipment and clothing for a lifetime to perpetuate the industry.

Does surfing discriminate? Make your own mind up and let us hope the ASP Women’s World Tour will actually run for a full year in 2013.

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  • Sue Allen

    Is their something we can do as fans of women’s surfing? How are we supposed to show are support if their is nothing to show are support too! Yes we can but the latest clothes (on the up side some brands have taken into account that surfer girls are usually an athletic build, not a model build). I buy the latest women’s DVD’s, if and when they are released in the UK, but if their are no professional competition to watch/ follow it all kinda comes to a dead end!?!

  • grinner

    First and foremost, I do thinkwomens surfing is still treated second fiddle to men’s surfing. And this is justified to a large extent becuase men’s surfing is just far more leading edge and high performance. nto to say pro womens surfers aren’t high performance. they are. compared to non-pro women surfers. but not compared to pro-men. anyone who says otherwise is either lieing or been smoking the green too much.

    But, I do agree that the prize money for womens surfing comps is grossly unfair and far less that what it should be. especially given the revenues generated from the sales of womens and girls surf apparel and accessories (i’m sure it is far greater than revenue from sales of mens products)…. Therefore in this regard i blelieve female pro surfers DESERVE a bigger cut of the pie.

    However, I disagree with the claims proposed in this article regarding the level of sposorship. If you look at that spreadsheet, yes, there are less competitions sponsored by the big surfbrands. But this must be put into the context that there are less surfers on the womens tour, therefore less events are required, thus, the number of surfbrand sponsored events is less.

    2 out of the 7 womens events have non-surfbrand sponsors. Going further, one is in New Zealand, where the big surfbrands may not see an financial incentive to push hard into the market, given NZ’s small population, and even smaller surfing population (as a proportion of the whole).

    The second is the Layne Beachley event in Dee Why, sponsored by the Commonwealth Bank, Australia’s biggest bank. This could be explained by a range of plausible explanations. Maybe she signed a clause when she left Billabong not to host/put her name to any surf events with any other surfbrand. Or, it could be a reflection of Layne’s networking and negotiating skills that she got a much more sound financial backer for her event (compared to the up and down financials of a surfbrand as we can now obviously see post-GFC)… or maybe its the result of a hard-sell by Commbank marketing team to get their name attached to a signature womens sporting event, one that receives a lot of media coverage in Australia.