Edition 40: Women and Power
JUST after dawn on a grey muggy morning in February 2012, some of the best surfers in the world, along with their sponsors and event officials, gathered on a beach in southern Queensland, all eyes on the ocean. It was the first day of the opening event in professional surfing’s annual competition, a season that would see the best surfers – male and female – compete around the globe for millions in prize money and lucrative sponsorship deals, and a decision needed to be made.
The location, Snapper Rocks, is famous for an unusually thick sand bank that lies on the ocean floor, at its best, transforming the waves that roll over it into long barreling cylinders perfect for riding. This morning, though, the swell was small and tide too high for the bank to work its magic; unsteady waves messily peaked and collapsed without a tube in sight. But the event was on, and someone had to surf.
Asking a surfer to paddle out and compete in poor conditions is a necessary evil in professional surfing; nature shows scant regard for competition timetables. Yet it’s something every elite surfer hates and vociferously resists. Good waves equal a better performance; a chance to be your best, achieve greater renown, and potentially, more sponsorship dollars.
The decision of event organisers that morning at Snapper Rocks surprised no one. Send the women out to surf, and let the men wait until conditions improve.