Women's 2013 ASP World Tour Preview
New Venue, New Faces, and More Money for the Gals?
Looking back, 2012 was a rad year for women’s surfing on the ASP World Tour. Australia’s Stephanie Gilmore snagged her 5th World Title after an emotional 2011, Santa Barbara local and rookie Lakey Peterson got her first ASP win at the US Open, performance levels of all the athletes went through the roof, and there were good waves at 5 out of the 7 events.
Now, 2013 is upon us and the girls can’t wait to get at it!
Browse through the ASP Top 16’s Instagrams and you will see training, nutrition, lots of surfing, and excitement for the upcoming season! And make no mistake, 2013 will prove to be a pivotal year for women’s pro surfing. A new venue was added to the women’s tour with the Telstra Drug Aware Pro, a new surfer was added to the Top 16, a new partnership with the ASP and ZoSea Media will undoubtedly take the images of the tanned and toned pro surfers to major television networks around the globe, and hints (and demands) of bigger purses for the women’s events have surfaced.
Although the Telstra Drug Aware Pro has been a Prime event for both men and women for several years, 2013 marks the first time the venue will be a World Tour contest for the women (the event will be a men’s World Tour contest in 2014). And rightfully so. The main peak at Margaret River is arguably the most demanding surf spot on the women’s tour and has been down-right macking more often than not. It favors the carving railwork of the stronger females and definitely tests the limits of some of the younger girls on tour. The exposed positioning of the break on the West Australian coastline can offer competitors huge surf in the 20ft face range, and cause havoc with high winds. Whoever wins is usually very fit, and is comfortable in any size conditions.
With only 16 surfers on the women’s ASP World Tour, compared to 34 surfers on the men’s tour, there are usually less changes in the ranks from year to year. This year is no different with only one new face on the women’s tour, Bianca Buitendag from South Africa. Buitendag has an aesthetically superior style in the water due to her taller figure and regularly punts solid airs and blows the tail out with the best of them. A good addition to the tour, Buitendag will do well at the venues that offer serious surf like Margaret River and Bells Beach.
Although she is not a new face to the tour, Alana Blanchard re-qualified for 2013 with a solid run of good results at Prime and Star events in 2012. Easily the most famous female surfer in the world, Alana is known for her sultry figure and smooth style. While the Kauai bred regular foot can charge big waves, pull off solid airs, and perform powerful turns, she is usually associated with her infamous “bottom” turn. Nonetheless, a more mature Alana is stoked to be back on tour and can use 2013 as a tool to show the world she is more than just a pretty face. “I’ve been on the WCT two times, and I’m excited to see all the girls again and travel with all the Hawaiian girls and just see everyone surfing at their best!” said Blanchard in a recent interview with Transworld Surf. “I’m always looking forward to Snapper, but all the events are amazing, so I’m super excited!!”
More Prize Money?
Since the dawn of professional surfing, the women have got the short end of the stick on prize money and overall prize purses. And it’s truly a discrepancy when you consider that the female side of surfwear sales bring in more money than the men’s. It’s quite shocking when you see Julian Wilson holding up a check for $100,000 for his US Open win, while women’s winner Lakey Peterson holds up a check for only $15,000. It’s just not fair, and it’s a little disturbing.
Luckily, the women are on the verge of taking pro surfing somewhere the men have not. Into mainstream corporate sponsorships from non-endemic brands. Due to the healthy lifestyle and beauty of the new crop of young female pro surfers, huge corporations like cosmetic companies and other female specific brands have shown interest in capitalizing on pro surfing’s feminine touch. And don’t forget, Carissa Moore was the first pro surfer to break the mold with non-endemic sponsors Target and Red Bull just a few years ago. There is a very real possibility that you will see events like the Loreal Pro, or the Covergirl Invitational in the near future.
5X World Champion and Quiksilver Womens ambassador Stephanie Gilmore has voiced her opinion about the prize money discrepancy in a recent interview with Huck Magazine. “[We need] more prize money for the women. I saw the females in tennis fight to get equal prize money and they did, which is pretty inspiring,” says the 24 year old Australian. “I see a lot of the girls on tour who struggle. There are so many talented girls who don’t have sponsors and they can barely even make it to the next event because the actual costs of traveling to get to the events is pretty difficult. So I’m in quite a special situation, where I don’t have to worry about that stuff, and I’m sure that’s also a factor in helping me to achieve the results I can achieve.”
Steph also feels there is a discrepancy in the event venues as well. Maybe if the gals had better quality surf then they would get more attention from sponsors? “What we need is to be in really high-performance waves, that’s something that we’re missing right now,” says the champ. “We just need to have that stage where we can perform and put on a good show.”
There’s no doubt that 2013 will be very important to all of the competitors on the women’s ASP World Tour as the world, and potential sponsors, seek an entertaining year filled with inspired performances and the drama of a World Title race. Hopefully, Poseidon and Neptune can conspire to throw the gals some solid swell for the tour stops in 2013, and the world’s best can show off their skills.
Stephanie Gilmore’s 5th World Title
Congrats Steph! Video from Quiksilver Womens