This is Malia Manuel, at 14 she has recently become the youngest champion ever at the United States Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach, California. The New York Times has a great article today about the new surge of girls who are tearing up surfing championships around the globe, taking home awards and leaving no prisoners.
Malia Manuel, now 15, won the United States Open back in July. Coco Ho, at 17 was right on her tail at 2nd place. Just recently in November, Carissa Moore won the Reef Hawaiian Pro at Haleiwa, on Oahu. In the final showdown Carissa defeated seven time world champion Layne Beachley. Last week at the Roxy Pro, 20 year old Stephanie Gilmore won her second consecutive women's world championship.
I just looked some of them up on youtube and although I don't know a whole lot about surfing there was something refreshingly new about their style. Its way grittier and in a way messy seeming, the style sort of reminds me of skateboarding. There is a straightforward aggression and yet a lazy 'I'm doing it my way' kind of thing going on. This sort of attitude is usually seen more in boys. I think their unconscious acceptance of their right to be in the water with both boys and girls is going to really take women's surfing to a whole new level - a place where it won't be considered so much 'women's surfing' as just straight up surfing. Carissa Moore has already left her sponsor Roxy (best known for their surfer girl's apparel by any of us who have been to jr high in the last 20 or more years). She has since signed deals with Red Bull and Nike. With bigger and more universal companies taking notice of women surfers there will be more opportunities to be on an equal playing field with dude surfers. Aside from all the endorsement stuff, its just really amazing to watch these girls surf. Check out the videos below!