The 2014 Stab Women's Rich List
This is the era of equality and nobody loves it more than us. Women making big bucks makes surfing a better sport. And here, we’ve curated a countdown of the highest earners on surfing’s better-looking side. These women are brand representatives, and in some cases, are piggy-backed by their companies more than they realise. Competition results do not always dictate the income stream. Sure, winnings can turn a one-bedder investment into a penthouse by year’s end, but fan interaction is still the most valuable attribute. Because moving product is the real game they’re all playing. Now, we haven’t snooped through the green side of each woman’s balance sheet, but we do sit close to the cogs of the surf biz and here’s how we see it.
8. Tyler Wright, 20.
Tyler Wright signed a five-year deal when she was 16. And for this reason, when Stab approached Miss Wright, the youngest of this group, she replied: “I ain’t on no rich list.” A lot can happen in five years and what seem like big dollars when you’re a virtual unknown doesn’t hold as much weight when you’re a world title contender. Tyler is the feminine touch in one of the world’s most successful surfing families and as much as she wants to deny it, is surfing’s richest little Tomboy. She is famous for acting herself, speaking her mind and is the furthest thing from contrived on social media. When this current contract expires, Tyler will move into the top five or top three earners and has at least five years ahead of her as a world title contender.
Total before contests and bonuses: Circa $300k
7. Laura Enever, 23.
Loz Enever is the most fun-loving member of the Rich List, and the lone Sydney-sider. At 23, Loz makes the Dream tour look like Blue Crush has gone mobile around the world. She’s the coffee addict, equally hooked on Instagram. But, don’t think for a second she ain’t savvy. Or a worker. She works for it. And on it. She does the time in the ocean and always works on her craft. The line-up at North Narrabeen where she’s from couldn’t be further from the peachy world it looks like she inhabits. She’s also got a philanthropic vibe and puts her face as an ambassador to a number of charities. She’s leading by example, of course. Loz is a single girl and that’s real good for biz. A Mister Enever would just kill the buzz, and her brother, Chris, does enough of that. We kid. But no one wants to see a good time girl all loved-up on social media! Loz is earning, too. She brings in $300k-plus from Billabong with healthy bonuses, has a Rockstar energy drink contract (even though Rockstar aren’t big payers like Red Bull) for around $40k and also has deals with Subway and Toyota.
Total before contests and bonuses. Circa $420k
6. Maya Gabeira, 27.
Maya Gabeira fits a diff bill to the rest of the girls in here. She’s the big wave surfer from Brazil who died in the water at Nazare last year and was brought back to life on the sand. You know the footage, you saw her face down and then dragged up the beach by tow partner Carlos Burle. She was also the one who copped the digital dressing down from Laird about even being out in the water. Whatevs, she’s the goofyfooter with the electric smile who was shot nude for the ESPN Body Issue a few years back and who also won the ESPY award for Best Female Action Sports Athlete. The 27-year-old makes the list without any surf co’s making telegraphic transfers to her bank account. Maya is on the books for Red Bull, Renault cars, Nextel and Vigor.
Annual earnings. Circa $450k
5. Bethany Hamilton, 24.
Beth is the most famous surfer in the world. If you asked Ellen, Oprah or even ol’ prez Obama about surfing’s highest paid athlete, Mr. John John Florence, you’d almost certainly get blanked. Ask them about the 11-time world champ and you might get a few hits. But. Ask about the surfer who survived a shark attack and now braves the ocean with one arm, you’d be almost certain they’d know Miss Beth Hamilton. She’s the only living surfer to have had her own feature film made about them, she’s starred on The Biggest Loser, The Today Show and the list goes on. But, beyond her story there’s something that most of us are just starting to work out: Beth charges and absolutely tears. She recently went to Tahiti where she hoped to bag herself a 12-footer at Teahupoo. She arrived at the same time as the crew from Pointbreak II and only managed “some 10 footers,” but has the goal of taming monsters in the future. She has Jaws in her sights, too. But for what? A new documentary with film-maker Aaron Lieber called, Bethany Hamilton Surfs like a Girl. The name is a play on the saying, “she surfs so good she’s like a dude.” Lieber’s take is simple: “Bethany wants to define herself as a girl. She wants to surf like a girl, rip like a girl and charge like a girl.” The film is set for release late 2015. This will certainly add to Beth’s income stream. While she makes okay cash from the surf industry she’s in her own space when it comes to raking leaves. She’s a regular on US talkshows and when she speaks at conferences, she is a beacon of inspiration to others around the world (which means she fills seats).
Annual earnings. Circa $600k
4. Sally Fitzgibbons, 24.
Sally Fitz has never consumed alcohol. Not a drop. And, at the time of print, she’s also in the running for her first world title. Again. She stands for a healthy lifestyle and has launched a book, Live Like Sally. Sal copped a little heat this year when she appeared in an ad for KFC, a $125k endorsement that many thought contradicted what she stood for. But there’s no doubting she is a girl with goals and a plan. She prefers to roll solo on tour, just with her Pops, Martin, and sticks to a fitness regime that’d shadow most of the gents. You won’t see Sal at the post-event parties, and it’s a battle between her and Courtney Conlogue to be first to the line-up before light. She works hard on her craft, wants to have airs on-lock and did that well-covered week in Dubai at the Wadi wavepool. Sal’s very Layne Beachley in her approach to cracking into the mainstream. She’s more NRL than ASP. She’s more sportswoman than surfer and stars heavily in mainstream press in Oz, boasted with a fresh news network contract. Red Bull in Australia have said that she gets a better ROI than just about any other athlete on their roster. And, for this she is well backed. Her boards are stacked. Her Red Bull deal is from Australia and is Rail Sticker, which means a reduced earn ($150k compared to a $350k plus deal on the nose). She rides for Garnier, is on a $500k-plus deal with Roxy, gets free wheels from Land Rover and is Samsung’s only female surf ambassador.
Total before contests and bonuses. Circa $1.1m
3. Carissa Moore, 22.
When energy drinks burst onto the scene over a decade ago, the surf industry wasn’t quite ready for the aggressiveness of The Logo. Honed in the world of motor sports, The Logo placement was king. The Hat was to be owned. And, also, The Nose (of the surfboard). It didn’t matter that most noses of surfboards spent their time planted in the water as tails flew above the lip; this was the real estate known as The Desired. Carissa Moore is the lucky recipient of a marquee energy drink sponsor in Red Bull and they own The Nose of Miss Moore’s Mayhem-shaped knives. And, Red Bull are all about performance. Get results and get rewarded. Contest victories and world titles pay handsomely and Riss gets plenty there. With a world title, Riss can make a mill from Red Bull alone with her bonuses. Even though her Red Bull and Hurley contracts sit at around $500k apiece and Target is a great earn at around $250k, it’s the earnings from world titles that can reshuffle the rich list. But unfortunately for Riss, not this year.
Total before contests and bonuses. Circa $1.2m
2. Steph Gilmore, 26*
The best brands know what they stand for. And when they don’t falter, it’s their consistency that connects. In the big-monied top-end of female pro surfing, Steph Gilmore is that brand (cue that awesome brand scene with Vinnie Chase in Entourage). Whatevs, Steph keeps it real. When bikinis on the world tour were shrinking, Steph stuck with boardshorts. When Insty feeds turned into bikini threads or busty selfies, Steph kept it loose and fun. But, when you’re a five-time world champ, when you’re a Laureus sportsperson of the year and when the male world tour surfers hang around to watch your heats, then why do you need change? You don’ts! In terms of financial success, the past few years have been great to Steph. She owns a five-bedroom penthouse that looks over Duranbah, another apartment round the corner and her earnings continue to bubble away consistently. Unlike the men’s tour, the women attract more mainstream cash in terms of sponsors. While Steph banks around a mill from Roxy, the land beyond surf is just as nice. Steph’s Weet-Bix and Nikon deals are rumoured to be well north of $250k apiece, and the three cars from Toyota also come with a $100k ambassador fee.
Total before contests and bonuses. Circa $1.7m
* Please note: with a world title bonus from a recent world title, Steph Gilmore is easily the highest paid female surfer in 2014. This list was without contest earnings and went to print before Steph was crowned the title.
1. Alana Blanchard, 24.
When the most socially powerful surfer in the world took to the stage for the victory in the 2013 Surfer Poll awards in Hawaii, it was like even she knew something was up. She knew she wasn’t the best surfer in the world but she also knew that her fan base is surfing’s largest. And, with an award as prestigious as Surfer Magazine’s still decided via public vote, she wasn’t going to gloat about being placed ahead of her peers in a social media competition. “It’s so amazing to be up here and be a part of all these women.” It was perfectly avoided and perfectly handled. But, regardless of the win, Alana is still a world tour surfer and is a lot more than surfing’s most popular ass. Alana’s competitive year on the world tour hasn’t been hot and she will not requalify in 2015. According to insiders, a world tour without Alana is like a men’s world tour without Kelly, and her presence is missed in digital plays and fans on the beach. Many are talking that she deserves the injury wildcard for this fact alone. But, there’s just one problem: she ain’t injured. Falling from tour might hurt her pride but it won’t affect her income. She’s still the Golden Girl of earnings, with her Rip Curl contract (inclusive of her bikini royalties) as the premier earner just shy of $800k and the loading of smaller sponsors like Spy, GoPro, Modom, Rockstar and Reef bring in over a quarter of a brick. Alana’s lucrative wins come in the form of what the surf industry calls non-endemics: which in plain speak is anything that isn’t a surf company. We’re talking Don Draper mainstream and Alana cashes in with Proactiv, Sony and T-Mobile.
Total before contests and bonuses. Circa $1.8m