Congratulations to North Shore Surf girl Anastasia Ashley for winning the women’s surfing and to Brazilian Karla Costa-Taylor for winning the women’s bodyboarding divisions of the 21st Annual North Shore Soap Factory Pipeline Women’s Pro in Memory of Josie Over. A big mahalo to event director, Betty Depolito for organizing it too!
Photo Bernie Baker
It’s great to see the women surfers from around the world given the opportunity to compete at the world’s most prestigious surfing competition venue. What’s not so great is seeing the only women’s contest held at Pipeline awarded dates at the end of the winter, when the waves are small and marginal. Most people don’t understand or even want to know about the “politics” of surfing contest on the North Shore, but it would be helpful to the cause of gender equality if some sun was shined on it. Each Spring the City and County sends permit applications to all the event directors from the previous season inviting them to fill our an application for a contest. The application includes questions like does this event provide opportunities for females and what kind of community services does the event preform. Although there is zero effort to confirm the truth of statements on the application, after all the event directors turn in the forms a secret process of “conflict resolution occurs ” when directors have conflicting date request. This process has increasingly pushed the women’s event to the end of the surfing season. On top of all of that there is no representation of athletes, who gets to compete in an event is left up to the sole discretion of the event director, and I know of cases where event directors have asked athletes to not compete due to personal issues with them. Another huge problem with the surfing contest process is the timing. Surf contest permits awarded less then 4 months prior to the start of the surfing season on the North Shore of Oahu. This leaves surfing contest promoters little time to organize sponsorship, athletes little time to organize travel plans and the media little time to organize covering the events. All of this little time hurts the ability the sport of surfing to leverage its self and event less ability for the Hawaii visitor industry to benefit from it. So what is the solution to this dilemma? Easy, the City and State of Hawaii should issue 3-year surfing contest permits to all of the existing events and require that event directors prove that they are giving women equal opportunities to compete, after all it’s the law. That way all of the up and coming girls learning to surf on the North Shore today will have something to strive for.