Committee for equity in women's surFing


We support equality, inclusion, equal access, and pay parity.

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.

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.

We Are The New wave OF Professional surfing



  • 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, filmmaker Sachi Cunningham contacted Sabrina Brennan with questions about the Coastal Commission hearing.

  • On Nov 7, 2015, filmmaker Dayla Soul contacted Sabrina Brennan and requested an interview for the documentary 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 Surf Open League, operated by WSL employees Gustavo Duccini and Gary Linden, 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 received 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 Aug 23, 2018, Patti Paniccia had lunch with WSL executives and offered her opinion - both personal and legal - on moving equal pay forward. 

  • 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.

California just forced equal pay for female surfers. Could that change other games?

“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.

    Did Maverick’s Force the WSL to Pony Up an Estimated $1.4 Million for Pay Equality?

  • 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 6, 2019, Sabrina Brennan represented CEWS during public comment at the Coastal Commission hearing at the Oceano Hotel in Princeton by-the-sea, near Half Moon Bay.

  • 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 represented CEWS at Assemblymember Tasha Boerner Horvath’s press conference in Cardiff, CA. Brennan gave a speech in support of equality, inclusion, equal access, and equal pay.

  • On Feb 17, 2019, Cori Schumacher, the original author of Assembly Bill 467, emailed Brennan.

    Schumacher said: 

Concerns exist regarding “equal access” and how that would impair female-only events/spaces/leagues/business events…it is of major concern to a number of my colleagues in the sports gender equity realm, and the Assemblymembers.  

Brennan responded:

Do you have any example of the types of female-only “events/spaces/leagues/business” your colleagues and the Assemblymembers are concerned about? Are we talking about Girl Scouts camping at a State Park or a Women’s volleyball competition on a State Beach? 

Schumacher said: 

Just a couple of examples:

  • All Girls Skate Jam

  • SuperGirl Pro at Oceanside

Brennan responded:

Equality is the path to equity. I support both.
In 2015, my presentation to the Coastal Commission was a request for 
equality and inclusion in the form of a women’s heat with the goal being a women’s division at Mavs. 
I do not support gender discrimination on public lands or in public facilities. 
In the case of Mavs without equality (a women’s division) there would be no opportunity for women to compete and earn prize money and gain equity.

Schumacher said: 

There is quite a bit of commentary and academic research around the impacts of the erasure of difference and who it impacts. The beneficiaries of this erasure of difference continues to be white males, which is why equity remains a focus for social and environmental justice advocates in many social institutions, established and emerging. 

  • On March 15, 2019, Sabrina Brennan and Karen Tynan met with AD 76 Chief of Staff Rob Charles and AD 76 Legislative Director Sheila McFarland.

  • On April 4, 2019, Sabrina Brennan and Karen Tynan were at the CA State Capitol for meetings. Assemblymember Boerner Horvath saw them in the hallway and invited them to an unscheduled meeting in her office. Rob Charles and Sheila McFarland also attended.

  • On April 10, 2019, Sabrina Brennan and Karen Tynan requested that Assembly Bill 467 be amended at the Assembly committee hearing on Arts, Entertainment, Sports, Tourism, and Internet Media.

    • Karen Tynan represented CEWS and Sabrina Brennan represented the SMC Harbor Commission at the California State Capitol in Sacramento, CA.

    • Brennan’s AB 467 remarks to the Assembly Committee

    • Committee Consultant’s Analysis (see page 3 & 4 for Sabrina Brennan’s remarks)

  • On April 19, 2019, the following letters regarding AB 467 were submitted to the Appropriations Committee in advance of the hearing on April 24, 2019. All eleven organizations/businesses are unanimously “Opposed Unless Amended” and all support the CEWS amendment.

    • CEWS Letter

    • Homestretch Foundation Letter

    • Athlete Ally Letter

    • San Mateo County Harbor District Letter

    • Coastside Progressive Democrats Letter

    • Surf Club of the Claremont Colleges Letter

    • IAP Films Letter

    • Good Film Works Letter

    • Dr. Mary Larenas Letter

    • The Wahine Project

    • On The Water Front

  • On April 24, 2019, Sabrina Brennan requested that Assembly Bill 467 be amended at the Assembly committee hearing on Appropriations.

  • On June 3, 2019, AB 467 was amended to include “streets and roadways.” This was in response to written concerns raised by Sabrina Brennan regarding gender discrimination in the Tour of California cycling race.

    • See Brennan’s April 10, 2019 concerns regarding cycling included in the Committee Consultant’s Analysis (pages 3 & 4)

  • July 15, 2019, Congratulations to Bianca Valenti! She successfully defended her Latin America championship title and won equal pay.

  • On August 17, 2019, the Committee for Equity in Women’s Surfing received the 2019 Social Advocate Award at the EVOLVE Outdoor Summit in Los Angeles.

    • Watch the Video

    • “The takeaway here is that if you want to make change, it doesn’t take a lot of people to do it,” said Sabrina Brennan. “Sometimes, you just have to ask for what you want.”

  • August 24, 2019, Sabrina Brennan represented CEWS as the keynote speaker at the California Democratic Party Women’s Caucus.

    • Thank you for the opportunity Carolyn Fowler and Christine Pelosi.

  • On August 26, 2019, CEWS co-founder Sabrina Brennan and Keala Kennelly met with Betty Depolito and City/County of Honolulu officials at the annual North Shore Big Wave Contest Meeting.

    • Article I, Section 5 of the Hawai’i Constitution provides that “no person shall be denied the enjoyment of civil rights or be discriminated against in the exercise thereof because of race, religion, sex or ancestry.

    • Betty’s Wish List:

      • Update the City/County rules to allow 30’ faces for the Women’s Waimea Bay Championship

      • Women’s Waimea Bay Championship should match Eddie Big Wave Invitational holding period (window) December 1st through February 28th

    • Paige’s Wish List:

      • A shared permit time with the Eddie Big Wave Invitational for the Women’s Waimea Bay Championship.

      • A Women’s Division in the Eddie Big Wave Invitational, a WSL specialty competition

      • MORE EVENTS!

    • Bianca’s Wish List:

      • A Women’s Division in the WSL Triple Crown including: Pipeline Masters, Sunset, Haleiwa Pro

      • A Women’s Division in the following WSL comps: Volcom Pipe Pro

      • A Women’s Division in the Da Hui Backdoor Shootout (it’s a team event). Each team competing in the DaHui Backdoor Shootout should include a minimum of 1 woman.

  • On Sept 9, 2019, CEWS co-founders Keala Kennelly, Bianca Valenti, Sabrina Brennan and CEWS founding cousel Karen Tynan and Betty Depolito attended the Surfing Rules Committee meeting with City/County of Honolulu officials.

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