WSL announces equal Championship Tour prize money from 2019
For years, women's surfing has been on the rise.
With the likes of six-time world champion Stephanie Gilmore leading the way, the women on the World Surf League Championship Tour have been campaigning for equal pay to that of the men.
Today, World Surf League granted their wish.
The organisation became the first American-based global sporting league to offer equal pay to the men's and women's competitions. From 2019, prize money will be the same for men and women on the CT, Big Wave Tour, World Junior Championship and the World Longboard Championship.
Kiwi CT athlete Paige Hareb told the Herald equal pay was something the women had been wanting for a while.
"It's been on the cards for years now, at least among the girls.
"I thought it would be eventually, but I didn't expect it to be done so quickly."
From 2019, a woman who wins an event on the CT will receive $100,000 is prize money, an increase of $35,000 on the current event winner's purse. While the women's tour were getting equal pay, the number of full-time CT athletes would remain at 17 for the foreseeable future, rather than increasing toward the 34-athlete quota of the men's tour.
Hareb was on hand at the announcement today, which was made at the WSL Surf Ranch ahead of the next CT stop at the same location. The women on the CT were told in private before the announcement was made, and the 28-year-old said there were a lot of beaming smiles around her.
She said a few instances where pay disparities between men's and women's events - most recently a case in South Africa earlier this year - made a case for getting equal pay sooner rather than later, and credited new WSL chief executive Sophie Goldschmidt for her role in getting it over the line.
"Having a female CEO probably helped."
Equal pay isn't something new for some surfers closer to home, with Gisborne Boardriders hosting an equal pay competition last year, but on the worldwide scale the change is a big step forward for WSL.
With the top tours set for equal pay from next year, WSL were now turning their attention to getting the same deal on the qualifying series.
However, a WSL representative said it was a little more complicated at the QS level.
"For the QS events, this will depend as we license those events out, and thus do not control the prize money. We are working to institute prize pay equality on the QS in the future. Ultimately we want every event we are involved in to have equal prize money."
If the organisation can secure equal prize money on the QS as well in the future, it will substantially help the athletes trying to qualify for the CT.
Most QS events do not offer a huge monetary reward, and women receive less than men. In QS6000 competitions - the top level on the women's QS and second highest on the men's - winners of the women's events receive $15,000 less than the men.
Former world junior champion Ella Williams said it would be a game-changer if equal pay was able to be established at the QS level. The 23-year-old is in her fifth year of contesting full time on the QS, and said an increase in prize money would make travelling to each event much easier on the athletes.
"You'd have more of an income to stand on your own two feet rather than trying to grind it out until the next comp on every single penny you have.
"If they did (increase prize money on the women's QS), it would be a change for the better and you'd probably see a lot more girls going to different places and I think just more girls getting involved, too."
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