Imagine for a second that you are a professional surfer, you’ve travelled over 30 hours and half way round the world. You have 25 or 30 minutes to make it through your heat, lose and you may not even make enough money to break even on your accommodation. Welcome to the world of a professional female surfer.
The World Surf League’s qualifying series is called the World Qualifying series or the WQS as it’s known takes surfers all around the world chasing enough points to qualify for the World Championship Tour, the WCT or for the WCT surfers to requalify if they drop out of the Top 10. Some years it can mean only to or three surfers will graduate from the WQS to the WCT.
Prizemoney on the WQS is good if you’re winning but takeout all the expenses such as flights, accommodation and food, then you need to be winning but what if you’re lower on the rankings and can not get into a WQS 6000 event then you may have to work your way up through the WQS 1000 events.
A good idea is to team up with other surfers and share the load as sponsorship dollars only go so far, they are more likely to recieve boards and equipment.
A great example of this is Dominic Barona, Melanie Guinta, Silvana Lima and Luchy Cosoleto. These girls travel together and not only share expenses but give support for each other. Having this support is vital and they all want each other to win. If one of the girls bow out of the event, they turn up and support the ones still surfing. It’s a sytem that I have witnessed firsthand.
It’s no doubt the girls are colourful, loud and passionate. Could the Australian girls learn from the South American girls and is this is what makes the South American girls such a force in professional surfing.
I think this support of each other helps celebrate the wins and makes loses easier to bear.
I have a confession to make.
I have told my dark secret to several other surf photographers and some secretly agree with me. I prefer shooting women’s competitive surfing. I prefer shooting it over men’s.
So perhaps I should explain my self now that it’s all out in the open.
I have been shooting competitive surfing for around 4 years and have had the opportunity to shoot both men’s and women’s competitions, mainly WQS events.
One day when I was going through the 2000 shots I had taken during the day, and found that many of the men’s shots were similar and repetitive.
I have found that women’s surfing has retained it’s individuality and each competitor has their own style.
Women’s surfing relies less on raw power, it has a higher degree of finesse and has retained more of the old school feel.
Looking at any female surfer of the WCT and you’ll see turns where the rail is held throughout the turn but this isn’t just for the pro’s.
If you look at the likes of Claire Bevilacqua and Holly Wawn on the WQS then you’ll see power surfing but dig deeper in the WQS Rankings and you’ll find many young ladies who have similar power but have great individual style. Ones that come to mind are Dominic Barona and Holly Wawn.
Perhaps my love of women’s surfing comes from my appreciation of tighter turns in the pocket, solid bottom turns and a good round house cutback but the girls are making better use of manoeuvres like tail slides and quick snaps.
I think women’s surfing has a long road ahead and I don’t mean that in a bad way. More stand alone events, better conditions and an increase in WCT spots are steps in the right direction to the ultimate goal, getting more girls in the water, loving the sport that connects them with nature in it’s purest form.