Continuing with my brief break from just politics, I want to talk about surfing again. Remember my post about women making news in big wave surfing? If not, I’ll refresh you. The Titans of Mavericks is a big wave surfing competition that takes place in Half Moon Bay, California which is pretty close to San Francisco.
Titans of Mavericks is a famous surf competition that is invitation-only. The waves there can get to be over 60 feet high. For any Aggies out there, that’s about as tall as Bonfire was in 1999. To surf those waves you have to be just a little crazy and a whole lot of brave.
Ever since Titans of Mavericks was started, women were never invited to compete in the competition. However, this season a women’s heat was added. It was big news in the surfing community and a big step for women.
But today I wanted to talk about the addition of a women’s heat to yet another big wave surfing comp. The Pe’ahi Challenge. It’s held in Maui at the “Jaws” break and is a place with huge waves, just as big as Mavericks. The fact that a women’s heat has been added is yet another big accomplishment.
The waves at Pe’ahi are so big that surfers are often towed in by jet ski instead of dropping in by paddling. Paddling in on waves that size is dangerous because the human body can only do so much. You have to be faster than the wave if you want to drop in and in big wave surfing that means working double time. The waves move fast and it’s hard to keep up with just your own two arms. It’s much easier to be towed in, but paddling in on big waves in competitions is making a comeback.
Women haven’t been allowed in big wave surfing based on the arguement that they aren’t strong enough to surf in the heavy and forceful waves. Obviously, this can be seen as sexist. But regardless of your gender, big wave surfing requires a great amount of strength and an ability to hold your breath for long times. When a wave that size comes crashing down on you, it drives you down with a crazy amount of force and you’ve got to be a strong swimmer, especially if you want to avoid the reefs typically found under big waves.
Qualified women should be allowed to participate alongside equally qualified men and the fact that that is happening is so exciting. It’s time that women are recognized in the sport, too.
EDIT: Here is a link to a video on Instagram shared by a female surfer & reporter. It sums up everything that goes in to big wave surfing perfectly.
Join me on Maui's North Shore tonight for the premiere of @ian.walsh's new film, Distance Between Dreams, set to premiere at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center on Saturday at 6pm and 8pm at the Castle Theater. We'll be streaming live from the red carpet on @theinertia Facebook page! 📽 @rbmhfilms | @redbull #distancebetweendreams
Featured image of Billy Kemper, winner of the Pe’ahi Challenge in 2015, dropping in to a wave, courtesy of this article.