The gender war just got hotter!
Okay, so there’s this issue of women getting equal prizemoney when they aren’t called upon to perform in the same heavy conditions as the men.
Where are the women at Teahupoo, Pipe and so on?
Two weeks after Chas first called on Devon Howard to become a surfing pioneer by allowing women to compete against the men in the same heats, I’d like to note that it has already been done.*
Last year, the 2019 Mike Stewart Pipeline Pro was an open entry event, with no division between genders.
Four women entered, with 2018 world women’s champion Ayika Suzuki’s advancement through her first-round heat offering proof of concept that the women could compete and succeed against the men.
This year’s competition featured nine female competitors, again including Suzuki, Pipe regular Traci Effinger (who goes by the glorious @clamdragger handle on Instagram) and the muse for this story, Miya Inoue.
In tricky six-to-ten-foot wind-affected Pipe, Inoue progressed through four rounds, reaching the quarter-finals.
Inoue scored the highest single-wave score of that heat after she projected off the lip of the biggest wave that came through in the twenty-five-minute heat, before being unable to find the backup score needed to progress.
I’ll ignore the usual tropes that will be trotted out in rebuttal here (aren’t all bodyboarders girls? It’s so easy, anyone could surf Pipe on a boogie board ** et al) and call on the WSL to offer a wildcard into next year’s Pipe Masters contest to one or more worthy female competitors.
And I’m calling out the female surfers, for one of them to put their hand up and say, “I can charge Pipe, give me a jersey, I’m ready!”
If a fifty kilogram (110 pounds) bodyboarder raised on Japanese beachbreaks is willing to throw herself at the lip of an eight-foot Pipe wave, there’s gotta be a female professional surfer who will have the vertical bonnet to take on Pipeline against the guys.
Paige Alms? Tyler Wright?
Imagine a Mason Ho vs Coco Ho heat at Backdoor?
And if the WSL is serious about equality, let’s see them give the women a chance to compete against the men in other premiere events as well.
Steph Gilmore is oft acknowledged as the most stylish rider regardless of gender at Snapper, why not give her a shot against the men in the opening contest of the year?
Carissa Moore or Lakey Peterson would do more damage laying into the walls of J-Bay than, say, Miguel Pupo?
At the very least it would they would great PR pieces.
So what say you, WSL corporate overlords?
How do you vote surfing world?
Just like aerial moves, heavy waves and the priority system, are you ready to follow in bodyboarding’s shoes again once again?
*The very first Morey Boogie world championships in 1982 was actually a gender-neutral event as well. Mike Stewart’s future wife, then Lisa Miller, competed and advanced through the first day’s competition. Presented with ten-foot Pipeline on the second day, she perhaps wisely withdrew.
** I offer Jamie O’Brien’s recent crabclaw efforts pushing his sponsors’ bodyboard products as rebuttal.