Wipe out

Notorious big-wave “boys’ club” Mavericks under pressure to include women

(Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

While the physically brutalizing sport of big-wave surfing is increasingly being taken up by women athletes, they have yet to crack an invitation to the Mavericks competition, which takes place annually between November 1 and March 31. (It isn’t scheduled until a few days beforehand in order to take advantage of the weather and big waves.) Friday’s 24-man line-up, tackling the massive waves off California’s Pillar Point, however, may prove to be the last time women have been unrepresented in the competition’s 15-year history. In November, the Coastal Commission voted 7-4 to require contest organizers to create a plan to include women in future events.

The event’s organizers say they’ve never actively excluded women — just that even at their best they don’t surf to the standard of the best two-dozen male big-wave riders. “So far, a woman hasn’t come to the table doing the stuff that men who aren’t even getting invited are doing,” Shawn Rhodes told KQED. Rhodes is a member of Committee 5, the group that selects the invited surfers.

Some of the female surfers would like to see a separate women’s heat, where they aren’t competing directly against men. The article goes on to take a look at the history of women’s big-wave surfing, the vexed question of why there is such limited opportunity, and the efforts to establish a viable competition, including the creation of the “Super Sessions” multimedia project to drum up interest and support.

Read the full story at KQED News.

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