Australia’s Women’s Surfing Revolution
Surfing is widely considered a mainstream sport in Australia however 20 years ago the chances of finding a woman’s surfing program would have been difficult. Fast forward to 2019 on the back of recent economic and social changes, that notion is a thing of the past. Women’s surfing programs are selling out; women and girls of all ages are hitting the water, eager to give surfing a go!
This shift has been led by inspiring women pushing boundaries at all levels of the sport. A significant change was the World Surf League’s (WSL) 2018 announcement of equal pay for men and women across all WSL sanctioned events. The announcement delivered by the WSLs’ first female CEO Sophie Goldschmidt was a pivotal day in women’s surfing. The WSL has proven surfing a progressive and dynamic sport accessible for all. By awarding equal pay surfing has established a genuine career path for young, talented female surfers. Read WSL’s press release here. With surfing’s inclusion into the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo this pathway has been strengthened. Women’s surfing will be on the world stage in Tokyo, increasing the sports exposure and inspiring more women to have a go.
At a grass-roots level surf schools around Australia have removed barriers-to-entry for women and girls with an understanding that learning to surf is as much about having fun and making friends as it is about learning a new skill. Let’s Go Surfing is at the forefront of women’s surfing and currently run the popular Women on Waves (WOW) program in Bondi, Maroubra and Byron Bay. The WOW program was an initiative of Brenda Miley; a champion of women’s surfing in Australia and founder of Let’s Go Surfing.
The WOW program is a 6 week course with a focus on fun, fitness, friends, skill development and experiencing different surf conditions. The course is taught with a relaxed and supportive vibe by experienced female coaches eager to give back to the sport. Participants learn the importance of surf safety and cover the basics from checking conditions, warm-up routines, paddling, ‘pop-ups’, catching waves through to more advanced skills such as bottom turns and cutbacks. The Let’s Go Surfing’s WOW program has become a blueprint for others like it, with various surf schools around the country running similar programs. Since 2010 there has been a 20% increase in female surfing participation nationally. With the 14-17yo age group having the largest increase of 60% (Roy Morgan Market Research)! Check out other stats here.
This strong commitment from surf schools and grassroot coaches is producing a seamless pathway for beginners to advanced surfers and has changed the way women approach the sport of surfing. There is a great opportunity for women to improve their skills and catch more waves in the surf, the line up is less male dominated and you’ll likely see other girls in the water. Interestingly in the 50+ age group there was a 45% increase proving there is no age limit to give surfing a go. Let’s Go Surfing support women of all ages to engage in the program. One of Byron Bay’s most loved WOW members’ first tried surfing at 70yo and has continued to come weekly three years later! What an inspiration!
Women are pioneering change for women in the surfing industry. It’s a compliment to ‘surf like a girl’. In a recent interview 7x World Champion Stephanie Gilmore comments on this idea “It’s funny, people say to me, ‘you surf like a guy’. But actually, no, the greatest guy surfers surf like girls!” Women bring style, beauty and grace to surfing and it’s wonderful to watch. We’re in the midst of a women’s surfing revolution! Get involved today and sign up to a women’s surfing program near you! For more information on Let’s Go Surfing’s WOW program click here.