By Melanie Williams @yogasurfmel
We are privileged to live at moment in history where the balance scales are tipping toward gender equality. The #MeToo movement calls for women to stand together, women’s marches call for political reform, Saudi Arabia lifts the ban on women’s driver license and on June 24th six brave and powerful women took a literal leap toward equality as they used surfboards, ironically called “guns”, to shoot down any doubts about women’s ability to hold their own in a male dominated sport.
It’s being called, “The shot heard round the world.” As these six women were allowed to compete, for the first time ever, in a big wave surfing competition at Puerto Escondido known as “Mexican Pipeline”, one of the heaviest waves on the planet. As the tide got higher the surf got bigger and wave faces reached heights of 30 feet. It was the first ever big wave contest for female surfers in Latin America and it will hopefully encourage other big wave events to hold women’s heats for these truly determined, courageous women.
Bianca Valenti (above) from San Francisco, first place winner, sent a clear message to both women and men, “We are all in this together.”
Second place was Isabelle Leonhardt (below). Coco Nogalas and José Ramírez the local big wave surfers felt compelled to carry as Isabelle off the beach as was the only Mexican woman represented and she had the highest scoring wave of the day with a 9.5. It was very touching to witness. As if competition meant nothing but love and support, they were the true winners of the day.
In third place Keala Kennelly (below) of Hawaii called on women everywhere to “Woman Up” which became a popular hashtag for the event.
Raquel Heckert (below), Emily Erickson and Polly Ralda also all put on a great show as they demonstrated female potential fully realized.
The event was such a success that WSL Big Wave tournament director, Gary Linden called it “The best women’s event we’ve had yet,” noting that some of the women would have made it through the men’s rounds.