NY Times Sunday Magazine
A small group of female big wave surfers
A story about being brave and sticking together to create change.
My friends and I successfully created equal pay and inclusion. For female athletes in California and throughout the World Surf League. We created the Committee for Equity in Women’s Surfing in 2016 and won equal pay in 2018. In February 2019 the NY Times Sunday Magazine featured our story. To inspire more change agents to take action! NY Times Sunday Magazine The Fight for Gender Equality in One of the Most Dangerous Sports on Earth.
In September of 2016, we formed the Committee for Equity in Women’s Surfing. In September 2018 we achieved equal pay! A huge milestone in closing the gender sports gap. The policy change supports equal pay in surfing and all sports that use public lands to compete.
Excerpts from the NY Times Sunday Magazine 2019 February cover story
“One sunny morning in January 2018, on a white boat in the blue sea off the Hawaiian island Maui, Bianca Valenti and Keala Kennelly sat on a beanbag listening to “German Sparkle Party,” a song by the Something Experience, and waiting for the right moment to surf 50-foot waves. Valenti, who is 33 and a muscular 5-foot-5, with a small, square jaw and friendly brown eyes, lives in San Francisco and is the best female big-wave surfer on the United States mainland…”
“The first surf contest to offer equal cash prizes for men and women ended up taking place at Jaws this past November. Before dawn that day, in a misty downpour, 50-foot waves broke with exceptional power, and forecasters called for waves to reach a terrifying 80 feet. Even male big-wave surfers, watching from the cliff, worried that conditions might become unacceptably dangerous. An argument had also been raging in big-wave circles about whether World Surf League judging criteria — for contests and the annual Big Wave Awards — were encouraging surfing that was too risky. Grant Washburn, who sits on the athlete-selection committee for the Maverick’s contest, called the constant emphasis on “commitment,” combined with cash prizes, akin to “dangling a carrot over a volcano” — championing what amounted to suicidal BASE jumps in pursuit of money and glory.
Valenti and Moller told me they were more concerned about their responsibility to prove that women could surf big waves with the same bravery and skill as men, even if that meant mortal risk.”