Now I’ll be honest, I didn’t watch much of it.
But the bits I did catch, I found myself drawn in with the kind of lurid fascination of it’s so bad, it’s actually almost good.
What happened? The best girls surf amazing, right? Steph rips with beautiful style, Carissa pretty much has it all in every department. Sally is a great competitor. Usually when you watch the ASP Women’s WCT you can’t help but be impressed by the way they surf; they are the best in the world, after all.
There are approximately 3.4 billion females on Earth, and the best 18 surfers among them get paid to compete all around the world. I caught a bit of the women’s event at Snapper and thought, ‘They’re ripping.’ You probably did too. But in Fiji I thought the sport took a great leap backwards.
The thing with surfing is that there is no real function or utility. Doing a turn (or not) doesn’t really serve a purpose. Despite the wording of the judging criteria, there is no function as such. It’s merely an experience-based thrill for the rider, and varying degrees of entertainment for the viewer as a visual spectacle. There is no time to beat, no record for going from A to B to break, or a ball to get over a line or into a goal. It’s basically a competition in being the most impressive.
So how come it was so hard to watch? How come Fiji was so unimpressive? Why did almost no one get a proper barrel and make it? How come the turns looked hideously crabby and forced? How come at times it looked like they were riding 8’10” five fins? I’m genuinely baffled. These are the best surfers in the world.
I couldn’t help but think ‘Jamie O’ Brien would be getting more barrelled than this surfing switch’.
Proper barrel, yes, alas Steph didn’t make it. There’s nothing ‘wrong’ with that of course, but is there something wrong with saying, “Oh but it’s pretty good anyway… for a girl” ? Photo: Robertson/ASP
Criticising women’s surfing is not being against women’s surfing. Being critical of a performance is not the same thing as misogyny. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. I’ve found some of the apologists actually pretty patronising. I’ve seen articles saying things like, ‘Yeah but they haven’t surfed here before’ and ‘So and so got a pretty good tube’ (for a girl).
Being patronising is the worst thing you can do, it’s insulting to female surfing’s professionalism, it’s sexism at its most backhanded, damnation by faint praise.
I think the women could and should be doing much, much, better. Don’t you?