It probably says a lot about the state of professional women’s big-wave surfing promotion and press coverage, but until today I had no idea that the waiting period for the women’s-only contest starting at Waimea opened this week. The Women’s Waimea Bay Championship officially opened for biz on October 1st, and the waiting period runs until November 21st.
This is the first strictly women-only standalone big-wave contest. There have been women’s-only heats at events at Nelscott Reef and Jaws, and last year’s Mavericks event was slated to hold a women’s heat, too, until the contest was shelved after financial problems.
“The more high profile competitive opportunities in women’s big wave surfing the better,” San Francisco’s Bianca Valenti said. “It’s one of the key elements for progression and to paving a better future for female big-wave surfing.”
The field is pretty big—as many as 26 competitors—lots of which are relative unknowns to the wider surf community. The usual suspects are there: Paige Alms, Bianca Valenti, Sarah Gerhardt, Keala Kennelly, Emi Erickson, and Andrea Moller, among other well-known chargers, but there are lots of underground big-wave surfers invited too.
Contest directors Betty Depolito and Wrenna Delgado only found out they’d won the permits necessary for the event in late August. Partial funding is coming from Red Bull, but it’s unclear who else is supporting the event financially.
The early-autumn waiting period appears to be because whoever holds the permit for the is-it-happening-is-it-not Eddie event has priority later in the winter, and local ordinances won’t allow two waiting periods at a time.
It’s not unheard of for Waimea to crank in the fall, so here’s hoping this contest gets the swell it deserves.
Here is the list of invitees:
GYPSY ANN RUSS
TAMMY LEE SMITH