Committee for equity in women's surFing
It’s time women athletes had an opportunity to showcase their talent at Mavericks surf break near Half Moon Bay in Northern California and beyond.
In 1994, bodyboarder Sarah Lucas broke the Mavericks gender barrier.
Feb 17, 1999, the first surf competition was held at Mavericks. Jeff Clark titled the inaugural event “Men Who Ride Mountains.”
Feb 26, 1999, Sarah Gerhardt became the first woman to ride the enormous wave at Mavericks standing on a surfboard.
In Nov 5, 2015, San Mateo County Harbor Commissioner Sabrina Brennan asked the California Coastal Commission to require a women’s heat as a condition of a Coastal Development Permit for the Mavericks Surf Competition. In a 7-4 vote to approve, Commissioner Mark Vargas added a condition to the permit requiring a plan for encouraging equal opportunity for women at future events.
Link to CCC hearing video, Item 14-c, Cartel Management
On Nov 6, 2015, filmaker Sachi Cunningham contacted Sabrina Brennan with questions about the Coastal Commission hearing.
On Nov 7, 2015, filmaker Dayla Soul contacted Sabrina Brennan and requested an interview for the documentry film, “It Ain’t Pretty.”
On Feb 12, 2016, Sabrina Brennan met Karen Fuller Tynan at a VIP reception for former U.S. Congressman Barney Frank. Soon after, Ms. Tynan became founding counsel for CEWS.
Fortuitously, this was the day of the 2016 Titans of Mavericks event. That morning, Brennan and documentary filmmaker Dayla Soul chartered a boat to watch the competition, followed by an afternoon party in El Granada at the home of Monique Kitamura, the Barney Frank VIP reception, and finally a political fundraiser in Mission Bay. It was a long day…
Soul received an invitation to the Marina District reception for Frank from Cori Schumacher (world champion surfer turned politician). Jim Ready and Schumacher were acquaintances from their roles in the documentary film ‘OUT in the line-up.’ Ready is a surfer and he’s married to Frank.
Soul and her then-wife Sarah Soul accompanied Sabrina Brennan and her wife Aimee Luthringer to the reception and there they met Tynan.
On Feb 22, 2016, Sabrina Brennan organized a meeting with Coastal Commission staff members Nancy Cave and Renee Ananda.
The meeting was attended by Bianca Valenti, Karen Fuller Tynan, Dayla Soul, Sachi Cunningham, Beth O’Rourke, Nico Sell and Sabrina Brennan.
Savannah Shaughnessy and Sarah Gerhardt declined an invitation to attend.
On Sept 5, 2016, the Committee for Equity in Women’s Surfing (CEWS) was co-founded by Professional Surfers Paige Alms, Keala Kennelly, Andrea Moller, Bianca Valenti and SMC Harbor Commissioner Sabrina Brennan and founding counsel Karen Tynan.
At the Nov 2, 2016 Coastal Commission hearing Sabrina Brennan and Karen Tynan represented CEWS and affirmed the request for a women’s heat. The Coastal Commission voted unanimously in support of requiring a women's heat.
Link to CCC hearing video, Item 11-a, Cartel Management
On Nov 11, 2016, Paige Alms made history as the first Women’s Big Wave Champion at Pe’ahi. The WSL Big Wave Tour paid Alms $15,000 in prize money. Her counterpart in the men’s division received $25,000.
At the Dec 13, 2017 Coastal Commission hearing Karen Tynan represented CEWS and reaffirmed the request for a women’s heat. For the second year in a row the Coastal Commission unanimously supported the inclusion of women's heat in the competition.
Link to CCC hearing video, Item 17.5.a, WSL
In Oct 2017, Paige Alms successfully defended her title as the Women’s Big Wave Champion at Pe’ahi. The WSL Big Wave Tour paid Alms $15,000 in prize money. Her counterpart in the Men’s Division received $25,000.
In June 2018, Bianca Valenti made history as the first Women’s Big Wave Champion in Latin America at the Puerto Escondido Cup. The WSL paid Valenti $1,750 while her counterpart in the men’s division took home $7,000.
On July 9, 2018, CEWS sent a letter to the California Coastal Commission staff notifying them that the World Surf League (WSL) has a history of gender-based discrimination.
On July 23, 2018, the Committee for Equity in Women’s Surfing met with the World Surf League in Redwood City, CA and presented a proposal for equal prize money and requested a multi-heat women’s division in the 2018/2019 Mavericks Challenge.
On Aug 4, 2018, the Committee for Equity in Women’s Surfing recived an email from Jennifer Lucchesi, Executive Officer for the California State Lands Commission regarding a lease application from the WSL for the Mavericks Challenge. Her email said, “At your earliest convenience I would like to talk with someone from your organization about your thoughts and suggestions relating to ensuring pay and access equity. ”
On Aug 16, 2018, Sabrina Brennan met with Coastal Commission staff regarding the WSL’s CDP application for the Mavericks Challenge. The meeting was held at the Coastal Commission office in San Francisco. Karen Tynan joined the meeting via phone.
On Aug 23, 2018, Sabrina Brennan represented CEWS at the California State Lands Commission hearing in Long Beach regarding the WSL lease application.
Link to SLC hearing video, 48 minute mark, WSL withdraws lease application
On Sept 5, 2018, the WSL announced equal prize money for every WSL controlled event, including the 2018/2019 Mavericks Challenge, in the 2019 season and beyond.
On Sept 6, 2018, CAL Matters published an article by Laurel Rosenhall about state agencies requiring equal pay for the Mavericks Challenge.
“We believe there ought to be gender equity with respect to the purposes of any use of our state lands,” Betty Yee said in an interview.
Gavin Newsom also supported the requirement, said his chief of staff Rhys Williams: “A lease application that doesn’t reflect equal pay isn’t going to fly with him.”
The Mavericks case could set a precedent for local governments to demand equal pay in any sporting event held on public property, said David Berri, a professor of economics at Southern Utah University who researches gender in sports.
“In any event where you are going across public land, then any government entity could say ‘You have to make this equal,’” he said.
On Sept 12, 2018, The Inertia published a story about July 23rd CEWS meeting with the WSL and the August 23rd meeting of the State Lands Commission.
On Friday, Oct 12, 2018, Karen Tynan and Sabrina Brennan represented CEWS at the Coastal Commission hearing in San Diego.
The Mavericks Challenge permit was approved unanimously with conditions that require a three heat women's division and equal pay!
In less than 3 years, CEWS won the fight for inclusion, the fight for a multi-heat division and the fight for equal prize money across all WSL global events.
Cori Schumacher attended the hearing and made remarks in support of a women's division and equal pay.
Link to CCC hearing video, Item 8-a, WSL
On Oct 18, 2018, Sabrina Brennan represented CEWS at the State Lands Commission hearing in Sacramento regarding the WSL lease agreement.
Link to CCC hearing video, Item C-27, ASP/WSL
The Santa Cruz Sentinel reported the following:
Sabrina Brennan was standing before the California State Lands Commission in a nondescript conference room, giving a report she’d given multiple times, when she felt her eyes welling up with tears. Usually not at a loss for words, she had to pause a moment to collect herself.
“I wasn’t sure if I felt like the weight was lifted or what,” said Brennan, a co-founder of the Committee for Equity in Women’s Surfing. “It was just a relief.”
Upon the land commission’s approval of the WSL’s permit, chairwoman Betty T. Yee said, “All I keep thinking is, ‘Title IX was 45 years ago, and here we are.'”
Yee added, “This is a defining moment, for sure.”
On Nov 26, 2018, Keala Kennelly won first place in the Jaws Challenge at Pe’Ahi in Maui. This event marked the beginning of women earning equal pay in WSL competitions.
The WSL Big Wave Tour paid Kennelly $20,000 in prize money. Her counterpart in the Men’s Division received $20,000.
On Nov 29, 2018, Keala Kennelly and Paige Alms participated in Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational opening ceremony held at Waimea Bay on the North Shore of Oahu. Just home from her win at the 2018 Jaws Challenge, Keala Kennelly made the roster of 28 competitors with fellow Big Wave Tour competitor Paige Alms as her alternate.
Brennan attended The Eddie opening. She met with Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell, Chief of Staff Gary Kurokawa and Parks & Recreation Director Michele K. Nekota. The meeting took place during the paddle out at Waimea Bay Beach Park.
On Nov 30 and 31, 2018, Andrea Moller was an instructor at the 2018 Hawaii Safety Summit. Moller works as a paramedic in addition to being a Big Wave Tour competitor.
The training was organized by the Big Wave Risk Assessment Group at the Turtle Bay resort in the North Shore of Oahu.
Brennan attended as an observer.
On Feb 7, 2019, the New York Times Magazine published a feature, “The Fight for Gender Equality in One of the Most Dangerous Sports on Earth.” The print version ran on Sunday, Feb 10, 2019.
On Feb 11, 2019, Assemblymember Tasha Boerner Horvath, who represents California’s 76th District in North San Diego County, introduced Assembly Bill 467, called the “Equal Pay for Equal Play” measure.
On Feb 14, 2019, Sabrina Brennan spoke as a representative of CEWS in support of Assembly Bill 467 at Assemblymember Tasha Boerner Horvath’s press conference in Cardiff, CA.
We Are The New wave OF Professional surfing
Increasing the number of events and the number of awards for women, as well as offering equal prize money, is the only way to achieve meaningful equity in competitive surfing.
Thank You: Mira Manickam, Dayla Soul, Beth O’Rourke, Cori Schumacher, Jennifer Savage, Delia Bense-Kang, Sachi Cunningham, Susan Jordan, Mary Larenas, Edmundo Larenas, Krista Comer, Nico Sell, Amanda Levett, and James Sanghyun Han.