Stab Magazine | Bianca Valenti And Keala Kennelly Crowdfunded The First Equal Pay Big Wave Event

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Bianca Valenti And Keala Kennelly Crowdfunded The First Equal Pay Big Wave Event

The Puerto Escondido Cup matched their efforts by serving equal beatings, regardless of gender. 

news // Jul 17, 2019
Words by stab
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Yes, Mainland was pumping for the Puerto Escondido Cup. And yes, Billy Kemper handled his business against a talented field of local and international big-wave surfers. 

“Came here with one goal. Got it. Felt great,” said Kemper.

But that’s not the story here.  

Bianca Valenti won the women’s division. And after battling for equal pay in surfing for so long, she now enjoys the spoils of war.

What made the Puerto Escondido Cup different was that for the first time in a big-wave event, women received the same paycheck as the men. Hosted by the Surf Open League, a surfing organization that sanctions and runs contests throughout Mexico, it wasn’t until Keala Kennelly came up with the idea of crowdfunding the prize purse that pay equality entered the conversation.

On June 30, Valenti created the “Surfers and Superheroes” campaign on GoFundMe.com. Setting a goal of $9,000, by the time the contest ran yesterday they had raised more than $12,000. There were a handful of big donors that came in with $1,000 each, and many smaller donations ($25 – $50) contributing to the cause.

“I love thinking of everyone who’s part of this movement as superhero’s from the future-focused on what’s possible, especially when we are united!” said Valenti following the event.

The funds raised went towards increasing the prize money for both the men and women.

“When things get hard, what reenergizes me is imagining the positive impact we will create for kids,” explained Valenti in her GoFundMe campaign description. “Possibilities I imagined when I was 7 turned into tough realities in my teens. It has never been ok with me that girls working their hearts out and achieving the same wins earn less than boys. My dream for kids now is to be able to focus strictly on performance and not have to worry about equal pay and inclusion.”

With the WSL offering equal prize money on the Championship Tour and this latest advancement from the Puerto Escondido Cup, the future of surfing continues to evolve into a more even financially playing field for all. And without the tireless advocacy of Valenti, Kennelly and their friends and supporters, these dreams may not have become a reality.

“2018 was the first contest in history with women in the event and the biggest wave ever ridden by a woman. What’s next?!” pondered Valenti.

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