As the crowds lined the Gold Coast in the lead-up to the Roxy Pro, further south in Tasmania a dedicated group of surfers were gearing up for the annual HIF RipCurl West Coast Classic. Held continuously since the mid 1970’s the annual event is the most popular and prestigious event held in Tasmania.
I love Tasmania. With family in the North West where it’s cold and rugged, it feels a world away from life on the Sunshine Coast. If you haven’t been, flights are cheap. You’ve got no excuse.
As a surfing destination though, it can be pretty unforgiving and isn’t for everyone so I was stoked to stumble upon an interview with event winner and Tasmanian State Champ Brooke Mason. Brooke was speaking with ABC radio on surfing in Tassie and on winning the West Coast Classic. Like most people, I love it when I’m proved right but I was sad listening to Brooke’s interview to hear that while there is a cash prize for the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th place getters in the Open Men’s Division, the women get nada.
“It’s a bit rich in this modern age where women can vote and drive cars women that we don’t get cash,” says Brooke somewhat ironically.
Shayne Clarke, from Surfing Tasmania the peak body responsible for the development of Surfing in Tasmania and the organisers of the event, was quick to reply.
Apparently, it’s down to depth of field. Not enough women entered so there was no cash prize offered. When questioned if, just maybe, the reason not many women were entering because there was no cash prize offered, Shayne responded:
“At the end of the day, Brooke actually knew before she went in the completion how the prize money was being divided.”
So if she wanted a cash prize, she shouldn’t have entered? Um, but maybe that’s why so few other women entered? He continues,
“If it comes to money, it’s a sad state of affairs. If surfers will only turn up to events based on money… then they ought to switch sports.”
That’s right. If you’re aiming to be a professional female surfer and actually expect to get paid, don’t. Just switch sports. Or do it for the love of it and the great free bikinis because, and let’s be fair, Brooke did walk away with some prizes. Women can expect free stuff, but no cash.
Remember how just yesterday I spoke about how women’s surfing will never be at the same level as men’s until we get the same support and avenues for betterment? This. Again.