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Alana Blanchard has eight major sponsors. (Instagram/ Rip Curl USA)

Pay gap

Surfers who aren’t sexy enough risk losing out on pay and competition, they say

By WITW Staff on May 12, 2016

The gap in pay between male and female athletes is receiving unprecedented attention this year, with the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team filing a wage discrimination suit and tennis star Serena Williams speaking publicly about unequal pay. But women’s surfing, a sport where the disparity in pay and sponsorships can affect an athlete’s ability to compete, has so far received less mainstream scrutiny.  Silvana Lima, described by The Huffington Post as one of the best professional surfers in Brazil, is among a small group of athletes trying to change that. Lima told the BBC earlier this year that she had been refused sponsorship by surf companies because she wasn’t pretty enough.

“If you don’t look like a model, you end up without a sponsor, which is what happened to me,” Lima said.

In surfing, competitors often need sponsors to pay for the cost of travel to qualifying events in far-flung places like Japan and Israel, according to The Huffington Post. If they can’t get sponsored, they might not be able to afford to get to the qualifying events that can put them on a path to the championship tour, regardless of how good they are.

Carissa Moore penned an open letter to the industry after winning the world title in 2014 in which she warned against the dangers of brands over-sexualizing the sport. Moore and others have pointed to surfer Alana Blanchard, who is sponsored by eight companies including GoPro, Rip Curl, and Rockstar energy drink, as an example of how companies are more willing to sponsor an athlete who is considered sexy than successful. Blanchard is the highest paid female surfer, but has never won a major title and is ranked 56th in the world rankings.

Read the full story at The Huffington Post.