Women engage in the sport but not the competitions
The British Surfing Association (BSA) claim, “the number of amateur female surfers has gone up by more than 300% since 2002, and public interest in female surfing is increasing.” However, there is still a shortage of women competing in watersports competitions, as evident at Legends of the Bay, held at Watergate Bay in Cornwall, with just three women entering in total compared to the full mens category .
Cornish watersports competition
The competition is split into two categories; kite surfing and paddle boarding, each one has a men and women’s sub-category within it. Shockingly, NO women entered the kite surf category and just four entered the paddle boarding. In comparison to the male entries for both categories which were at full capacity. Nonetheless, everyone entered the water, despite challenging conditions of eight foot waves that started to roll in around midday.
Pro woman surfer speaks up
Tina Beresford, 29, a sponsored short boarder and paddle boarder, competed in the paddle-boarding category at Watergate Bay. She admits, that the turn out of women entries for the event was poor. She also expressed that the media may be partly to blame for the lack of women competing within the surf industry.
“I think the way in which the media portray it (surfing) is just with people who’ve been surfing since they were like five…. you think they must have had loads of coaching and you’re made to think that they’re just amazing; you just see them in the clean waves, you don’t see them in the white water struggling to get out back like anyone else would, because you know, we’re all human.”
The effect of the media making women feel inadequate in the surfing industry almost played upon Tina’s confidence as she expressed that; “Last year I didn’t compete, because I think I’m a bit of a perfectionist and if I don’t think I’m good enough then I won’t do it, but then I thought life’s too short.”
Listen to her full interview here
Education may influence
Anton Roburb, 44, surfer and commentator for the competition said; “I think that women’s sports… fail very miserably here (England), because of the schooling, from the age of six no longer do you compete at a sports day to win, it’s all about participation, how can you have that feeling of winning or losing that makes you want to win again? If you take that mentality away from a young age, how are you meant to develop that or sports as a general?”
However, looking beyond Watergate in Cornwall, it appears that some of the biggest competitions such as the World Champion League for Surfing have imbalances between men and women in other forms. Offering more prize money to men is one of them, “the women’s WCT carries a first prize of £5,500, with a total purse of £35,750….the men’s WCT is divided into 12 events, each with prizes totalling £150,000 and a first prize of £16,500.”
However, the prizes for the Legend of The Bay competition, were not of an unbalanced value between the mens category and the women’s. Unlike, the amount of entries between them!