Last week, Ocean Beach in San Francisco hosted one of the toughest paddleboard race so on the planet. A group of the best athletes in the world battled a death-defying race course in 20-foot waves, to try for the $20,000 number one spot.
If you watched this competition, you would have noticed that a few of the world's best paddle boarders were missing. There was no Annabel Anderson or Candice Appleby, there wasn't any Fiona Wylde or Andrea Moller, in fact there were no women invited at all.
For the second year in a row, the Red Bull Open Water invited exclusively male athletes to compete - so the women of the paddleboarding world took the social media to protest.
No female invites again for the Heavy Water Event in San Francisco... Let's all work on it and have equality, transparency and equal opportunity in our sport to set a path of success for the future of this beautiful sport and it's great athletes and future athletes!! We already have races setting the way to go - M20, PPG, Carolina, SUP Siesta, just to name a few.. #ipaddleforequality #equalopportunity #equalityinsport #redbullheavywater
Through the hashtag #IPaddleForEquality, hundreds of women (and men) joined together to tackle the issue of gender participation in paddleboarding and the sexism found widely in action sports, led by one of the best paddle boarders in the game, Annabel Anderson.
What this raised was the wider issue that myself and other females have been challenging for many years," wrote Anderson on her Facebook page. “To be treated with the equality of opportunities that are extended to our male contemporaries. It is not a question of skill or performance, I have personally proven every year that a female is capable of delivering a performance equal to those of the top men."
“Shortly after this matter was brought to public attention via social media post by Annabel Anderson earlier this week, the APP Tour Director reached out to myself and Fiona Wylde to discuss the matter in a last-minute effort to get female competitors, three days before the event. This is extremely unprofessional," wrote Appleby. “We deemed this unfair and very disrespectful."
There is no good reason why women shouldn't have been included in this race. The excuse of women's involvement in sporting events being too small because of an alleged lack of interest from both competitors and audience is not just wearing thin, it's practically see through. The argument that women can't keep up wth the men is proven wrong with each new female record.
Women are standing up in every industry at the moment and making their voices heard. The way this protest made an impact and changed this event for all future years shows how much of a difference that the collective female voice can quickly make, however there is a long way to go before women have an equal footing with men in the sporting industry.
Check out some more of the women who protested below. #IPaddleForEquality
#ipaddleforequality || today a massive race was held with gnarly waves.....girls weren't allowed to participate seeing as though they aren't as "strong" as guys, which is just sad..... we want this sport to grow right?.....well why not let girls participate in the red bull race?....my dream is to become a professional stand up paddler but by not letting girls race is just unprofessional and unfair!.....yes, i wouldn't have competed in this race but i would really want to when i'm older and a stronger paddler..... ????
When I asked the question earlier this week if you were ok with the lack of female invitee's at the 2nd edition of Red Bull Heavy Water in San Francisco (until the 11th hour on Tuesday when 1x token invitation was extended) the answer was a resounding NO. What it raised was the wider issue that myself and other females have been challenging for many years - to be treated with the equality of opportunities that are extended to our male contemporaries both inside of competition and out. It is not a question of skill or performance, I have personally proven every year that a female is capable of delivering a performance equal to those of the top men and I commend the events and communities that have honoured equality and equality opportunity. My goal is clear: to support equality, transparency and equal opportunity to set a path of success for the future of our sport and its athletes. The question is simple "What do we want for our sisters and daughters?" #ipaddleforequality #equalopportunity #equalityinsport #redbullheavywater
#ipaddleforequality // We join the women of the SUP world in supporting gender equality in our sport. Gender equality should be a basic right, and women shouldn't have to start a movement just to be treated equally. But it's not, and they do. So well done to all the female paddlers, whether they be the stars of the sport or weekend warriors, that came together and broke down the floodgates today. Hopefully/surely this will lead to a more positive balance in the world of stand up paddling. This goes beyond any one event (the symbolic, men's-only #redbullheavywater) and touches on a much larger issue that's been bubbling away in the wider sport for far too long. It's time to make things right. #Repost @supracer with @insta.save.repost • • •