A Celebration of Australian Women in Surf
I know that last Saturday is a distant memory, but my weekend was better than yours and it’s taken me this long to recover and recall the blur that was; My date with Sally.
Sal, god love her sent me an invite to her “Celebration of Australian Women in Surf” Gala dinner. And, as many first dates go I frocked up, rocked up and prepped my best awkward date chat.
Like a kid in a candy store I arrived and found the bubbles. Just in time to run into Jodie Cooper, of course all the pre-prepared chat was gone the minute the glass touched my lips. I managed a few mumbles about how good the waves in Byron are and how I was over the crowded waves at my Sydney local. Before asking in a shade of Ocker I didn’t know I possessed “How many chicks surfed when you were a grom and were frothin’?” The answer was shocking, three in total at Manly of all places.
Pondering how the times have changed and kicking myself for my awkward attempts at conversation, I stumbled my way into the proceedings. “It’s like my dream, 8-year-old birthday party,” enthused Sal; her incandescent smile showing the stoke she carries everyday, as she tells the crowd an anecdote of her hopes of every one of her heroes attending the evening. The humble – lets face it – social media superstar, then turned the crowd’s attention to how times have changed. “I was looking up at my locker in France and saw my name and wondered; I wonder if Pauline (Menzer) had her name on her tent?”
The evolution of women’s surfing is a funny progression; it’s a hard market to balance. On one hand these women are professional athletes, pushing their bodies to the best of their abilities and charging waves most male surfers wouldn’t think of taking on. On the other hand, sex sells. Subsequently the sexualisation of these athletes can sometimes take precedence over their talent in order to pay the bills.
Sal’s event highlighted the beauty and the possibilities in women’s surfing with grace and dignity. A panel conversation with Sabre Norris, Keely Andrews and the lady of honour herself (Sal) eloquently pointed to the future of the sport. As the drinks flowed and the “yeeews” came thick and fast from a room full of sloshed surfers, one thing was unfortunately clear. It wasn’t a date, but that’s ok ‘cause now I’m Sal’s mate!
With the room’s full attention, a cheeky Sal couldn’t resist a final quick dig about her title race with Tyler Wright. “I must have scared Tyler (Wright) off because she’s sick.” After which, everyone kicked off their heels and had a good time cheering the women who have dedicated their lives to preserving surfing for generations to come.