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‘Revolutionary’ Big Wave Surfing

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Big wave surfing is about going places that you haven’t been before, and not being deterred by the challenges getting there. I started surfing when I was 7 years old, and I started competing when I was 9 years old. I would compete with the boys a lot because there were no girls’ divisions. My name is Bianca Valenti and I’m a professional big wave surfer. Surfing big waves is a whole different ballgame in terms of what’s required physically and mentally. You paddle out there in the morning and the water is dark, thick, heavy, and you have to navigate through a pack of hungry wolves of men. There’s about 80 of the best big wave surfers and sometimes I’ll have another woman with me, but usually I’m one of the few. Women in surfing are portrayed in a very sexualized lens. It was always a struggle to find sponsorship and to make an income because I didn’t have the model look that men wanted to use to market their concept of what a woman in surfing looks like. I was burnt out from the frustrations that I felt of inequality and lack of opportunity and sexism in the surf industry and in the high-profile competitions, and so we decided to form a committee: The goal of our committee is to pave a better future for women in surfing.What we created was a template showing the importance and the value added to events and sports by having professional female athletes compete. This is the first year that women will have something of a full tour. What I would like to see is more encouragement for women athletes from men, from allies, and women really sticking together and supporting each other to create the changes that we want to see. Women have the ability to open minds when they ride big waves. Our surfing is so revolutionary and so cutting-edge that it really speaks to the awesomeness of women. .

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