When surfer Lucy Small received less than half of the pay cheque that her male counterpart received at the Curly Maljam recently, she decided in the moment that she needed to call it out.
“Thank you to the sponsors for the money they’ve put into the event, but I would say It’s a bittersweet victory knowing that our surfing is worth half as much as the men’s prize money,” Small said in her acceptance speech, after winning the women’s competition at the North Curl Curl long board event.
“It took the same amount to drive here, flights were the same cost to fly here, accommodation cost the same and our surfing is worth half as much, so maybe we could think about that for next time.”
Small had just accepted a $1500 cheque for winning the long board surfing competition on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. Her male counterpart received $4000 – more than twice as much.
Small posted a video of her acceptance speech to Instagram and has received a flood of media attention for calling out the inequality.
At the time, Curl Curl Longboarders Club secretary Phil Nicol defended the gap in the prize money and said it was more of a “moral issue”.
“Did we do anything illegal? No. This is a more, this is a moral issue…we’ve done nothing illegal,” he told The Sydney Morning Herald.
The club has since taken on board the wave of feedback following Small’s comments about the prize money and said next year’s event will offer equal prize money to all participants, including those of varying age groups.
“We asked the question why aren’t the over-50 men jumping up and down because they didn’t get the same money as the men?” Nicol said.
“That’s ageism, the ageism card could have been pulled out.”
“We just have to keep going, bit by bit by bit, until we eventually create meaningful change,” Small wrote in a post on Instagram. “We want equal recognition of women as legitimate athletes at all levels of competitive surfing.”
Small said she didn’t realise the female competitors at the Curly Maljam would receive less prize many than the men, and prior to the event she had just assumed the competition would fall into line with most other surfing events, where women now receive the same money as men. The World Surf League introduced equal prize money for women in 2019, but this event was not affiliated with the World Surf League.
Sydney-based surf retailer Global Surf Industries thinks so too and decided to step in to rectify the unequal prize money received by women at the event. The company donated $4850 to the Curl Curl Longboarders in order to cover the gap in prize money received by all the women’s prizes at the event.
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