Surfer Lucy Small reflects on her fight for equal prices for women
It should have been a moment of happiness and celebration.
- Surfer Lucy Small claimed uneven prizes when she won Sydney’s Curly Maljam surf competition in April
- Contest organizers will now have the same cash prize at future events
- Ms Small has since raised the issue with her local MP
Instead, Lucy Small got nervous as she took the stage in front of a crowd at a surfing competition in Sydney with a $ 1,500 novelty check.
The 28-year-old had just won the Curly Maljam at Curl Curl in north-east Sydney.
âThank you very much to the sponsors for the money they invested in the event,â Ms. Small began to say in front of an enthusiastic crowd.
“But I would say it was a bittersweet victory knowing that our surf is worth less than half the prize money of the men.”
âI was shaking,â Ms. Small said after the April event.
âThe words were just coming out of my mouth. “
The equivalent prize money for men was $ 4,000.
A barrage of media interest followed to the point where Ms. Small turned off her phone.
Ms Small started surfing as a child in Ocean Beach in her hometown of Denmark on the south coast of Washington state.
She said the inequality of prize money has been a problem for years in competitive surfing.
âWe just have to take it and say thank you very much for giving us anythingâ¦ that’s what we’re supposed to say,â Ms. Small said.
“There are so many sectors of the surf industry that have given clubsâ¦ permission to do what they have done and that is part of the culture of the industry.”
Commit to do better
The Curl Curl Longboarders Club was the organizer of Curly Maljam and its secretary Phil Nicol admitted the group’s fault.
“We fell into the usual old way of looking [at] which we have done before and we have followed the same pattern all along, âhe said.
“We really hadn’t thought of it.”
He said the event would have an equal price in the future.
After hearing Ms Small’s story, surfboard company Global Surf Industries stepped in to pay the remaining difference in price.
âWe are committed to advancing women’s surfing in Australia and are delighted to be able to help and resolve this year’s Mal Jam cash prize issues,â said GSI CEO Mark Kelly.
Although Ms Small acknowledged this “positive result”, she said it was not a quick fix.
âIt’s a small thing that has happenedâ¦ but it’s not a widespread permanent change.
“This is not a recognition of the legitimate place of women in sport.
“It must be a bigger change than that.”
She has since met with her local member Jo Haylen on the matter.
“I think there is real space in our community right now to talk about these issues,” said the MP for Summer Hill.
Ms Haylen said she will meet with NSW Sports Minister Natalie Ward next week to discuss ideas, including how leading-edge organizations like Surfing Australia have handed out cash prizes.
âWhether it’s at the start of someone’s athletic career, the runs, up to the point where you step on the podium and receive the check with the same number of zeros,â Ms. Haylen said.
In a statement, a spokesperson for the NSW Office of Sport said the NSW government is committed to building a stronger sport industry where women and girls are valued.
Surfing Australia responds
Surfing Australia CEO Chris Mater praised Ms Small for her courage in speaking out and said he was disappointed that an equal price was not already in place.
âLucy shouldn’t have had to make the statement in the first place,â Mr Mater said.
He said equal pricing is mandatory in the organization’s regulations, to which all events organized under his auspices must adhere.
He said event organizers could face penalties if they don’t comply.
Surfing Australia rules state that all players should be treated fairly in the course of their sporting activities, regardless of gender, race, place of origin, athletic potential, color, sexual orientation, religion. and other conditions.
“We are truly committed to being Australia’s most inclusive sport.”