Huge changes are in store for the Mavericks Challenge surf contest, held in Half Moon Bay.
The next time it’s held, not only will women be included for the first time, but they will be able to win the same amount of prize money as men.
The move comes after an energetic push from women athletes, who have been fighting for equality in the sport for years.
This week, Assemblywomen Tasha Boerner Horvath, D-Encinitas, and Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, announced that those changes might be codified in California state law.
They have introduced a bill requiring competitions held on public lands to pay out equal prize money to the competing men and women.
For Boerner Horvath, who has an 8-year-old daughter, the bill is as much about removing obstacles for future generations as it is for the women currently fighting for change.
She said in an interview Friday that she thinks state lands should be used in a way that reflects the state’s values.
“Those values are equity and inclusion,” she said. “As a mom, this is a place where I don’t want my daughter to be experiencing inequality in pay.”
Sabrina Brennan, president of the San Mateo County Harbor Commission board, has been advocating for gender equality in the sport of surfing for years.
In 2015, she helped found the Committee for Equity in Women’s Surfing, and has been pushing the World Surf League to include women in their competitions and working for gender equity in surfing.
Last year, she succeeded, when the WSL agreed to give women equal prize money.
Brennan hopes that will encourage a new generation of surfers to go pro and pursue the sport more seriously.
“What happens with girls and surfing, they hit a certain age and they drop out,” she said. “They drop out because they don’t have any opportunities. That’s a global problem.”
Brennan hopes that the California bill, if it becomes law, will encourage changes to the sport as a whole. And she hopes it spreads to other sports riddled with gender inequity problems.
“If you see an opportunity to help other women, you need to take it,” she said.
Brennan said she’ll be spending time in Sacramento this legislative session to voice her support for Assembly Bill 467.
Boerner Horvath said she hasn’t heard of anyone who opposes the bill. She said 22 lawmakers have already signaled their support.
“We are all together raising each other up so the next generation will have a bright and more equal future,” Boerner Horvath said.