Fighting for equality in big-wave surfing


Photo: Dayla Soul

Since 1999, the world’s elite big-wave surfers have battled it out at an event known as the Mount Everest of surf competitions – at Mavericks in California. Until this year, female surfers were banned from taking part. But a small group of determined women have fought their way in.

The first time Bianca Valenti surfed a 6m (20ft) wave, the ferocity of the breaking water sucked her down to the ocean bed. There, it tossed and spun her body over and over until everything went black and she began convulsing from lack of oxygen.

Badly shaken, the 18-year-old swam back to shore at Ocean Beach, next to San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, and swore she would learn to conquer these giant waves.


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