Paige Alms, Jaws.
Paige Alms, Jaws.

Jen See: “So what about the women’s Jaws?”

A thoughtful discussion.

I am sitting in the airport on my way to work a bike event in Seattle. No lie, I checked a bag filled entirely with Goretex. I love my bike people, but their choice of weather is not always my favorite. Somehow, I will survive this experience.

Even through the shitty airport wifi — and really, in 2019, why is airport wifi still so shitty? — I can hear you. I can hear you yelling at me, like, Jen, Jen, what the fuck, what is up with the women’s big wave event at Jaws. Help us understand. Well in truth, I think some of you just want me to post up as a target for your comment section shenanigans. Well, someone has to do it, so here I am.

My foundational belief about women’s sports is the following: I believe that women athletes should have agency over their sports. They should be able to determine how and where they compete and what they earn. They should be able to progress their sports at the speed they want to progress them. They should have events that reflect their priorities, their ambitions, their values, and their dreams.

The women who compete in big wave surfing have made their priorities very clear, I think. Based on what we know from Daniel Duane’s reporting (among others), the women in big wave surfing want equity. They have set as their goal to achieve the same opportunities to compete that men enjoy. They’ve sought equal prize money and they have made it their priority to build their sport on these values.

That means, if the men paddle out at ginormous Jaws, the women are going to paddle out, too. That means if there’s an event for men at Mavericks, the women are going to demand entrance, too. And they will take the hold-downs and the criticism that comes with their determination to chase the biggest possible waves and the biggest possible goals. They would not thank anyone who tried to hold them back, who tried to tell them that it’s too big or who tried to tell them that they aren’t ready.

By contrast, I think it’s fair to say that the women on the CT are following a somewhat different path. When I asked Steph Gilmore and Carissa Moore about surfing Teahupoo, they were open to it, but they want to take it step by step. On the question of prize money equity, Gilmore says it wasn’t a priority for her. She only came late to understanding the symbolic importance it has in inspiring other women. Of course, Gilmore doesn’t speak for the entire CT — Fitzgibbons and Conlogue both told me they would go, right now today, if an event happened in Tahiti.

Shortboard surfing is a different sport from its big-wave sister and it makes sense that the women who do it are searching for different things. They want opportunities to showcase their style, their meticulously crafted turns. They want space for self-expression. It’s not that they’re ignoring the men’s side of the sport and it’s not that they aren’t looking at how the men are pushing what’s possible. Moore, in particular, says she’s aware of the gap in the performance levels between men and women — and perhaps more than anyone, wants to change it. But exact parity does not appear to be how they are thinking about their sport.

But, and read this slowly my people, both approaches are equally valid, as long as they reflect what the women doing the sport actually want their sport to look like. It doesn’t matter what I think, or what a bunch of men yelling in the comments section think. What matters is what women want their sports to be and what goals they set for themselves as athletes. That’s it.

To support women’s sports, in truth, requires coming to it on its own terms and engaging it based on the goals that women athletes have set for themselves. What it doesn’t mean is setting men’s sports as the norm, and constantly measuring the ways that women fall short of this imagined ideal.

Sure, the women competing at Jaws were not on the same level as surfers as the men. That’s true. But on their own terms, they have already succeeded. They paddled out in the same event, on the same day. That is the goal that they’ve set for themselves. And they’re evolving their sport steadily and determinedly in the direction they want it to go. Nothing is ever built in an instant.

The thing about elite athletes is, they are never willing to settle. They are always pushing, always chasing, never content with average or normal. In this, women athletes are no different from men. That process is not always pretty and it doesn’t always run smoothly.

Stand or fall, the women in big wave surfing have my respect for their determination to paddle out and their refusal to back down. There is, eventually, something inspiring in that — which is maybe the point of watching sports at all.

The People's Hero Panda Cardoso. Destroyer of walls. Breaker of chains.
The People's Hero Panda Cardoso. Destroyer of walls. Breaker of chains.

Comment Live: Round of 16, Pipe Masters in Memory of Andy Irons!

Impossible to believe it can get better but... can it?

(Ed. Note: I sincerely apologize if the contest is called off for the day. I have to run north, to podcast, but if there wasn’t a place for us to chat live from the opening hooter, my heart would break.)

If you did not thoroughly, profoundly enjoy professional surfing yesterday then you truly are a grumpy local, a Grumpy local even, and deserve much gazes of wonderment. For I found it impossible not to smile from ear to ear, not to thrill at every bit of it.

Longtom wrote poetry and you can catch up here before tucking into a brand new day below. The quickest recap? Pip and Jordan are finished, Gabe and Italo locked into death embrace, Kelly and John John too, the Wall of Positive Noise came crumbling down on a cuddly panda’s head.

Very rude, all things considered.

I must say, the comments had me in stitches. It sure is fun to enjoy professional surfing with friends.

Watch here.

Chat below.

General White
General White

Six massive Great White sharks surround the State of Florida in a move public officials call “menacing” and “tactical!”

"Thousands more" possibly in the area as well.

Christmas, Hanukkah, etc. is certainly not shaping up to be jolly in the State of Florida, no not at all, for it was revealed today that six massive Great White sharks have essentially surrounded the peninsula, choking off both the northern redneck portions and southern Cuban areas.

And we have learned that the apex predators are, indeed, evolving, learning to swim with their fins below the water’s surface so as not to attract attention but could it be that they now understand military tactics? Now comprehend how to utilize the classic pincer movement first deployed by Nader Shah during the Battle of Kirkuk?

It certainly seems this way and we must head to CNN’s International Desk for the very latest.

A single sighting of a great white shark is enough to get most people out of the water. But six? That’s the stuff of nightmares (or movies).

OCEARCH, an ocean data collection agency, has indicated that a half-dozen of its tagged white sharks have congregated off the Florida coast. The agency’s tracking tool shows four white sharks off the northeastern coast and two more swimming in the southwest ocean region.

While it may seem uncommon to have so many tracked sharks surfacing in one location, the water temperatures are actually ideal right about now. Three of the sharks found a sweet spot off the coast of Jacksonville, where water temperatures are 65-67 degrees.

What is unusual is the amount of sharks the agency is able to track. Recent years have brought more research expeditions, which has allowed them to discover loads of previously unknown information about the species.

The sharks, named Nova, Sydney, Cabot, Ironbound, Unama’ki and Hudson, were captured and released with trackers that enable OCEARCH to see where they are and trace their migration patterns.

OCEARCH founder and expedition leader Chris Fischer told CNN this group may be just the tip of the pod — there are likely thousands more in the region that don’t have trackers attached.

Thousands more?

What sort of strategy are they employing? A siege? An attack in oblique order? Crossing the T?

More importantly, what defensive positions are Florida State officials drawing up to thwart this clear and present menace?

It’s times like these I crave Napoleon Bonaparte. He would know what to do.

Best advised not to surf in Florida this holiday season even if you receive a new 8 ft soft-top surfboard under the Christmas tree.

More as the story develops.

The other proving ground.
The other proving ground.

Comment Live: The cbdMD Jaws Big Wave Championships!

Mayhem! Madness!

First Teahupoo is declared host of the surfing program for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. Then Pipeline is putting on an altogether glorious show. Now we have the cbdMD Jaws Big Wave Championships.

Is there a better time to be a professional surf fan?

Regarding the cbdMD Jaws Big Wave Championships, as you know, the format is all different now for that big wave “tour.” There is a paddle event (Jaws) a tow event (Naz) and a selfie event (Mavs). Altogether they make up the Big Wave… something. Tour? Seems a little much to call a “tour.”

This Jaws one, anyhow, is called Big Wave Championships but why is it Championships instead of Championship?

Can you explain?

There are, in any case, heats with many surfers in the water at a time.

As always, watch here.

Comment below.


Official: Teahupoo “The Place of Shattered Skulls” to host surfing for 2024 Paris Olympic Games!

Dreams come true!

And can we all doff our berets toward France this morning? That sporting cock? For of all the decisions made around “surf” as “sport” by governing bodies, regulating bodies, world leagues 9/10 are very bad decisions. Uncomfortably dumb decisions. Incompetent, difficult to comprehend, silly decisions.

See re-hosting the Freshwater Pro at Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch in the summer of 2020.

The 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games will be kicking off around the same time, or maybe just finished. The first time in history that surfing, our surfing, will be part of the show. Many prayers will be offered at multiple Shinto temples for a typhoon. Without such a climate event there will be small surf and a Kanoa Igarashi, or that other little Japanese man, gold.

But while we are giggling and pointing we can also be girding our loins for the summer of 2024. Filling our refrigerators with crisp white wines, our freezers with poisson cru. Readying ourselves for mayhem and let us quickly read the press release for it is the very least we can do.

The Polynesian island of Tahiti has been chosen to host the surfing events at the 2024 Paris Olympics after being selected over beaches in southwest France and Brittany, organisers said on Thursday.

Tahiti lies 15,700 kilometres (9,750 miles) from Paris but was chosen because it offers near-guaranteed surfing waves in the summer months.

The events will take place at Teahupoo, a location that boasts some of the biggest waves on the men’s World Cup circuit.

“It’s an extremely pleasant surprise and recognition for our history that will restore honour to Polynesia, where surfing began,” the president of Tahiti’s surfing federation, Lionel Teihotu, told AFP.

According to the 2024 organising committee there was no difference in the cost or environmental impact of the four possible venues.

Tahiti was preferred on “sporting grounds” — a survey by Meteo France, the French meteorological centre, suggests that Teahupoo offers a greater likelihood of good surfing waves during the summer months, the Paris local organising committee said.

The choice of Teahupoo is controversial because it does not currently feature on the women’s world circuit. The waves there are currently considered to be too dangerous for women surfers.

Organisers said they would get round the problem of hosting the Olympic women’s surfing events with careful scheduling.

“We can put the women on at a time of the day when the waves are less powerful,” Teihotu said. “We have ways of planning that now and it will allow women to also surf at Teahupoo.”

Viva la France. Viva her real good.