Alongside superstar climbers Alex Honnold and Tommy Caldwell, America’s favorite runner Des Linden, and U.S. Open tennis champ Naomi Osaka, among others, the surf world’s very own Bianca Valenti was named one of 2018’s Most Accomplished Athletes by Outside Magazine earlier this winter.
Surfers don’t often get the recognition we deserve as athletes, but Valenti has done her part to grab the attention of the surf, action and mainstream sports worlds by helping to push the frontier of women’s big-wave surfing.
She also helped ensure women would be able to compete in the Mavericks WSL event, should it ever actually be held, when she co-founded the Committee for Equity in Women's Surfing, an organization that successfully lobbied the California Coastal Commission with their argument that women take part in the event before any permit to hold a Mavericks contest be granted. Not only that, but Valenti and CEWS were able to push for an equal prize purse for the men and women, a possible influence on the WSL’s decision to award the men’s and women’s tour draws equal prize money in the future.
Valenti has been a fixture in the big-wave scene in Northern California for the past five or so years, and has put her time in at spots like Puerto Escondido and even Jaws, in addition to Mavericks and big days at Ocean Beach. She’s a tireless advocate for women’s surfing, especially women’s big-wave surfing, and is a friendly face in often testosterone-charged heavy-water lineups.
"The organizers had told us, 'Women aren't ready' or 'It's unsafe,' or they'd say, 'Yes, you can compete,' but then nothing would happen," Valenti told Outside. "When we started using policy to try to make a change, things finally shifted."
“I think we'll see people getting better at the sport because they have more resources to go chase swells and whatnot and I think that’s what's so exciting about this–we’re going to see better and better surfing from all the women in every division,” Valenti told us after the WSL’s decision to award equal pay to women and men.
Exposure in mainstream publications like Outside sure doesn’t hurt.