Normally, I try to refrain from commenting on “political” issues relating to surfing, but upon learning that officials in the State of Hawaii have denied the permit for the only and 21st annual women’s contest at Pipeline and upon reading a recent press release detailing the reorganization of the official World Surfing Tour from the Association of Surfing Professionals, ASP I had to comment.
What particularly caught my attention in the ASP press release was the increase in prize money for the men from $3.4 million to $4 million and for the women from US$630,000 to a “generous” $800,000 and the addition of a women’s representative to the governing board. The irony is that the men’s prize money increase is almost as much as the prize purse for women’s entire tour and yet we all know in our hearts that the women’s surfing clothing industry is huge, huge, huge, and that companies like Roxy sells more clothing then Quicksilver. Why is there such a huge disparity in surfing prize purses? That goes back to the lack of even a single women on the ASP board of directors until now. However, with one vote on a board of 7 people it’s unlikely there will be much change in the status quo.
Regarding the denial of the 21st annual women’s contest at Pipeline, this has been an on going embarrassment for the City and County of Honolulu’s Parks Department. For some reason they can’t figure out how to allocate permits to everyone in a fair and timely manner, As of this post the calendar has still not been finalized for the winter surf season. This creates financial and logistical challenges for competitors, event organizers and even hurts Hawaii’s tourism industry. It’s strange too, because surfing is Hawaii’s largest cultural export and is practiced by millions of people around the world.
One would hope that in such an enlightened and beautiful sport as surfing that our women would be treated with fairness but instead it seems that we have a long way to go and in fact are far behind many other sports.
Below are two quotes from the press release:
“Prize money at the ASP World Tour and ASP Women’s World Tour level is set for a substantial increase in 2010. Base prize money for the ASP World Tour events will increase from the current US$340,000 to US$400,000 in 2010, taking the total prize pool on 10 events from $3,400,000 to $4,000,000 per annum. On the ASP Women’s World Tour, total prize pool will increase from US$630,000 to $800,000 in 2010.”
And on the addition of a voting female to the ASP board of directors:
“It’s fantastic that the women will become voting members of the ASP Board of Directors,” Jessi Miley-Dyer, ASP Women Surfers’ Representative, said. “The current board has done an incredible job in directing the tour and has been instrumental in providing career pathways and tours for both male and female surfers. Having a female representative on the board dovetails perfectly into the positive, global response we’re receiving on the ASP Women’s World Tour right now, and I look forward to seeing the benefits of such a shift in focus.”
You can read the entire press release here: