Thursday, April 24, 2014

Sexism and the women's shortboarding tour

Bronwyn Adcock has written a great piece over at The Daily Life about why the 'Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach finally realises sexism is bad for business'. You can read it via this link.
In 2012, while researching a story for the Griffith Review I spoke to surfing administrators and promoters to figure out why such a retro, Puberty Blues-esque approach was warranted in this modern era. The ASP seemed rueful; of course they'd like to give the girls a better go, but they had to think of the sponsors, and the sponsors didn't see a market for women's surfing. A promoter told me the problem lay with women and girls themselves – girls don't want to grow up to be athletes he said, they want to be bikini models, that's why there's little investment in the "sport" side of women's surfing. 
The problem with the arse-trumps-athleticism "logic" though is that following it wasn't working for the sport, and the ASP was struggling to maintain a sustainable World Tour competition. 
The actions of ZoSea since they purchased the ASP suggest they also are not buying this flawed logic. Under the radically revamped women's competition this year, prize money has been doubled – though still no parity - and Fiji, Hawaii and Maui have been added to the schedule. 
The new chief executive Paul Speaker says it's “time to move these wonderful athletes onto waves that challenge them a little bit more,” promising the women an “equal voice” in the competition. 
Speaker has made it clear that the rules of the game have changed: “It is imperative to understand we deliver the best product for our audience,” he says. “And that doesn't mean the best product for the men and find a way to place the women in.”
As is suggested above, this is not the first piece Adcock has written about the issues women face in competitive surfing. Last year she wrote a great piece called 'Is it hard to surf with boobs?' for the Griffith Review, which you can read here.

And while we're on the topic of awesome people who do the things they love and dream of, even if other people tell them they shouldn't, you should watch this awesome clip of astrophysicist, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, explaining the 'chick problem' in science. (Sorry I can't post the clip, it's a clipped one and I'm technically limited.)

Note: This entire post was made possible by the link sharing of my dear friend Jen. Thanks Jen!

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Riders to the Sea

This clever, funny, surf short from Ireland, Riders to the Sea, is written and directed by Orla Welsh. I saw it as part of the Ocean Film Festival touring Australia a couple of weeks ago.

Clever and funny, huh. I like when women are presented as more than surfing damsels in distress, and this woman most certainly is all over this situation. I also like when women are presented as having a sexuality that isn't passive or disinterested. And hers certainly isn't. Well, until she notices the empty waves. It think it was my favourite film from the festival and it was certainly the most original. Thanks, Orla Welsh!

A quick search about the name of the film reveals that it is the same as a famous Irish play from 1904. From the related Wikipedia page:
A one-act tragedy, the play is set in the Aran Islands, and like all of Synge's plays it is noted for capturing the poetic dialogue of rural Ireland. The very simple plot is based not on the traditional conflict of human wills but on the hopeless struggle of a people against the impersonal but relentless cruelty of the sea.
I wish I could know more about whether these names are connected or not and why. The surfing is done by Irish surfer, Easkey Britton, who is pretty cool. I'll post more about her soon...

Monday, April 07, 2014

Crossing the Tasman

I have often written about how much of a sub-topical, warm water lover I am. About how last year I bought my first ever steamer (a 3/2), which I only needed to wear a handful of times. About how I have rarely had call to venture, let alone surf, further south than Sydney. This was never about gloating, this was about being honest about how and where I surf. This was done so I could be judged accordingly. But things are about to change, friends. Things are about to get frosty.

Because I am moving to New Zealand.

I am moving to a place of cold water, black sand, short-board dominated, lefts. I am moving to a place where the sun sets into the sea! I am moving to a place where a short-legged spring suit is not going to get me through the winter. Dang, where a 3/2 isn't going to get me through the winter!

But in a way I'm kind of stoked because it's a good test. I know lots of people who have given up surfing when they have moved to colder climates. Really! And while that is fair enough, I don't want to be that person. So I'm taking it as a personal challenge to get out of bed and get into the water even thought nothing about that sounds reasonable, rational or sensible. But I really do love catching waves, so I will.

And so I was inspired by Toddy's post over on The Endless Bummer the other day about surfing in winter.
You easily psych yourself up to surf. You've got your six mil winter suit with those five mil gloves and those seven mil booties, you're practically praying for snow. The romantic ideal of being that guy just propels you into full on frigid surf froth. Especially when you're heading out from your cozy home in your cozy car, your suit quickly becoming a sweaty hot box as you hustle to the water's edge.
It's the water's edge that kills you.
You look out, feeling the proximity of that churning, ice-cream headache, face-stinging paddle and realize you've made a terrible miscalculation. But you blunder on, the pure shame forcing you forth into the nettle-like abyss of sub-40˚ water. After the sputtering lobster claw flailing torture, you heap yourself upon your board just that side of the lineup as that second ring of cold water hell focuses uncomfortably into view.
Or, I should say, out of it. This moment you realize just how hobbled you are in that coffin-like hood, peripheral vision blacked out completely. This is when you realize just how important hearing is to your whole wave catching mojo.
These foundational, guttural limitations dawn on you in such nauseating succession, you're sure you'll paddle in after your first take over the falls. It's all too much.Then a wave chooses you, dropping you in, and that bizarre, one of a kind insta-joy relief sets in.
You breathe, laugh a little. You were right all along.
Until you gotta get outta that suit. 
Winter in NY means even more  rubber and enthusiasm for surfing than it will mean for me in NZ. I mean a 6 mil wetsuit is just beyond my comprehension and there is no snow to the place I am headed. But Toddy's stoke gives me comfort and even something to look forward to in my own cold water sessions.

Video via The Endless Bummer as well:

Friday, April 04, 2014

Clara Bow rhymes with 'paipo'

So I just stumbled upon this image of Clara Bow over at The Sunset Sessions tumblr, and it made me pretty happy. Surfing and cowgirls combined? Come on!

So obviously I got obsessed with this, and although I didn't find out much specific information about this image, I did find a few others that are clearly form the same shoot. 

This one above is my favourite.She looks so happy. 

Also, here is a bonus 1929 artwork of Clara Bow surfing, by Enoch Bolles.

Happy Friday!