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Celebrating Equal Pay, part one by Andrea Gaytan

Updated: Jul 1, 2020

World Champ Julia Rick made history as the first female wake park rider to win Equal Pay.

The hottest news overheard en route to the 2018 Wakeboarding Hall Of Fame inductions, was that the World Surfing League would institute Equal Pay for women. It was a polaroid moment that etched in memory with detail. It took a few breaths to sink in, while a scent of hope lingered in the air. The Equal Rights Movement for professional women had gained immense momentum globally. But this was surfing, our big brother sport who was balancing the scales. It was a huge step forward.

The archaic argument that female athletes get paid less than men because of an uneven retribution, had finally been outdated. The excitement was palpable. The plight from the IWWF towards gender equality had started to bear fruit.

With the hopeful intent to get our sport into the Olympics Games, (where gender inclusion is the standard) the IWWF had payed equal podium at the Wake Park World Cup in Aqaba Jordan a few months prior.

After the WSL announcement, the bliss continued when the wakeboarding industry raised the bar by declaring that there’d be Equal Pay at the Wake Park World Cup in Shangai the following month. The WWA joined the equal opportunity endeavor and also had Equal Podium Pay at the 2018 WWA Wakeboard World Championships in Playa del Carmen Mexico.

That same year, at the Golden Globes, Glen Close sent a powerful message about equality to all women in her acceptance speech, “I can do that, and I should be allowed to do that”.

Back at Surf Expo, watching Sara Cline and Tara Hamilton’s induction into the Wakeboarding Hall of Fame felt like a family reunion. It had been two decades since we’d seen each other and we wanted to reminisce. Hall of famer Sonja Scheffler, Cathy Williams, Sara, photographer extraordinaire Bill Doster and myself went to ride at “Cathy’s Bed” and shred. We tried out the brand new Liquid Force wake surfers that Jimmy Redmond and Tony Finn gave us. Those same two guys who first sponsored Cline and myself back in the “Wake Tech” times.

Sara hasn’t changed much in the twenty years since we rode together. Today she is a stunning mom, whose fierce green eyes flash as she drops the handle and surfs towards the back of the boat effortlessly.

Looking at the wake I can’t help thinking it would’ve been nice to have a bigger wake thirty years ago, when it all first started. But then again, the thought makes my knees shake.

Cathy is at the wheel, she hasn’t changed much either. From the times when we rode to contests, feasting on junk food in rented vans, and took turns driving while we built our sisterhood one road trip after the next. She just came back from Dubai and is the first woman to drive the boat in International competitions.

It was not all road trips.

Things got much better.

At the back of the boat, Sonja Scheffler chews gum cheering at Sara. Sonja still has a six pack abdomen after having two beautiful kids. She looks on like a movie star behind her turtle shell colored sunglasses.

A smile starts to build across my face, memories with Sonja in New York, San Francisco and London being followed around and filmed like reality TV stars. It was not all road trips. By then, we were flowing with the magical momentum. All of us girls, riding on our own girl boards wearing cute girl board shorts.

The force continued to escalate with staggering synchronicity. Soon the market exploded with sister apparel brands, like Rusty Girls, Volcom Girls, Billabong Girls and Roxy to name a few.

The level of riding rose like the evolving boat wake, going from the mere jet ski spray, to a slalom wake, through cement, fat-sacks, water-tanks, wedges and into unforeseen dimensions.

We have come a long way.


Stay tuned for part two.

All credit to the Wakeboarding Hall Of Fame for the Original Post.

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