Sometimes its easy to assume that surfing is a man's sport. Which isn't exactly surprising given the kind of press "female surfers" get.
There's the Reef Girls, whose job description consists entirely of posing for photos in revealing, skintight neoprene; the fact that WSP doesn't even list female surfers on their site; and the fact that a quick Google search for "Top Women Surfers" will get you an AskMen Top 10 Listing that features a bunch of poser women selected based off appearances (and Layne Beachley as a token addition).
But things are slowly changing, and the era of the bikini clad surfboard accessory association is finally coming to a close. Here are a few girls that could kick your ass in the lineup any day of the week.
A world class surfer and something of a prodigy, Fitzgibbons qualified for the WQS in 2008, which she immediately dominated, scoring her a position in the 2009 ASP World Tour, thereby completing what was the fastest rise from qualification to pro status on record. Her 2009 season was extremely competitive especially considering her rookie status--she beat out a string of other more experienced top level female surfers for a top 5 finish. Already the top rated Women's World ASP contender, Sally Fitzgibbons is surfing's fastest rising star.
Only one of two women to ever take the World Title away from Layne Beachley, Stephanie Gilmore has been dominating the circuit ever since, earning 3 consecutive titles from '07-'09 and now comfortable positioned to grab her fourth this year. Like so many other world class surfers, Gilmore started surfing at an absurdly young age--in her case 10, giving her the edge in experience and skill over almost all of her competitors to date. With the bar being raised every year, it will be interesting to see how she fairs against up against the up and coming stars of the new generation.
The perpetual hardheaded rebel, Lisa Anderson entered the surf world at the age of 13, back when women's surfing was frowned upon and consequently very much underground. At age 16, her parents tried to stop her from surfing so she moved to Huntington Beach, entered a few tournaments and walked away with a stunning 35 National Scholastic Surfing Association trophies and the 1987 US Championship. Anderson continued to hone her craft until 1994, one year after the birth of her first daughter, she began her reign of terror on the WCT--snagging the '94, '95, and '97 titles along with the only other female cover of Surfer Magazine in 40 years. The crazy bit is that she was struggling with chronic back problems the entire time. They don't come any fiercer than this.
Layne Beachley is the Kelly Slater of female surfing. She's racked up 7 World Championships and is generally considered to be one of the most competitive surfers in the water to date. At age 16, she was already PRO, 4 years later she was ranked no. 6 in the world. The part that really makes Layne special is that she had to fight, tooth and nail, against everything practically everything in her life to get her career off the ground--and when she did, she crushed it---becoming the only surfer in the world to earn 6 consecutive World Titles. She was adopted from her 17 year old single mother, only to have her foster mom die of massive brain hemorrhage, and was raised by a family friend. To date, Beachley is amongst the most widely recognized female surfer alive--having been featured in Step into Liquid (2003), Blue Crush (2002), and Billabong Oddessey (2003).
That's all the time we have for today. But if you're still jonesing for more, check out the video below. :)