'Were the women's waves half the size too?' Surfing competition lambasted for paying male winner twice as much

27 June 2018 - 11:59 By Suthentira Govender
The 2018 Billabong Junior Series winners, Rio Waida and Zoe Steyn pose with cheques of their prize money on June 24, 2018 at Willard Beach, Ballito, South Africa.
The 2018 Billabong Junior Series winners, Rio Waida and Zoe Steyn pose with cheques of their prize money on June 24, 2018 at Willard Beach, Ballito, South Africa.
Image: Facebook/The Ballito Pro

Organisers of the Billabong Junior Series Ballito Pro - under fire over the blatant disparity in prize money for its male and female winners - claim it’s the World Surf League that determines the sums.

Outrage has been growing on social media over the marked difference in winnings between male and female surfers in South Africa.

The outcry comes in the wake of the Billabong Junior Series Ballito Pro on the KwaZulu-Natal north coast at the weekend‚ after the men’s under-18 winner‚ Indonesian Rio Waida‚ walked away with R8,000 in prize money‚ while the winning under-18 woman‚ South Africa’s Zoe Steyn‚ got R4,000.

In a statement on Wednesday the organisers said they “noted the concerns raised regarding the apparent discrepancy in prize money between the girls’ and boys’ division for the Billabong Junior Series”.

Festival organiser Collette Bundy said the organisation maintained its stance as “pro-gender equality competition”.

“Based on this commitment to equality‚ we are meeting with all relevant stakeholders to discuss how any potential discrepancies can be resolved going forward.

“The World Surf League (WSL) is the sanctioning body for WSL-aligned surfing events such as The Ballito Pro. The WSL implements certain criteria to determine surf ratings and prize money‚ and we have formally requested a detailed outline of this process for future discussion‚” Bundy said.

Chad d'Arcy‚ event license holder of the Billabong Junior Series‚ added: “In order for any professional surf event to be internationally accredited‚ it has to be sanctioned by the WSL. The WSL also determines the allocation of prize money and points for each event.”

Social media users vented their anger online.

One Twitter user posted: “There’s no such thing as the #GenderPayGap ... REALLY @billabong1973‚ you can do better than this!! #BillabongJNR surfing competition prize money. Were the waves the women surfed half the size of those the men surfed?”

Another social media post read: “When they say "The gender pay gap is not real" and you have proof in one single image taken in 2018. Same ocean‚ same waves‚ same competition‚ same sponsors‚ 50% pay gap‚ 2018. #GenderPayGap #BillabongJNR”

Others called on the organisers to fix the situation.

“Boo for blatant gender inequality! What kind of message is this sending to young female surfers looking to compete just as hard for half as much prize money? All the event planners‚ organisers‚ sponsors should be ashamed to be a part of this. Where were you when this decision was made/announced? Why didn’t you call this out as outdated‚ sexist garbage? Fix this!”

Another wrote: “Hope for your sake there is a second giant cheque... on its way to that equally talented young lady. My advice would be to take this opportunity and apologise‚ make amends and encourage other sporting organisations to pick up their game too. In the meantime good luck explaining this embarrassingly shameful decision to half the human race!”