Exploring the differences between men and women’s competitive surfing. Not at all what you’d expect.
Some top line stats on the ASP’s reigning King and Queen:
Carissa Moore won the 2013 ASP Women’s World Title and Mick Fanning won the 2013 ASP Men’s World Title. It was Carissa’s second crown, and Mick’s third. ‘Riss sealed the deal in weak Portuguese waves and Fanno wrapped it up in big, perfect barrels in Hawaii. Mick is 32 years old, Carissa is 21.
It doesn’t take much more than a polite observation to realize that there is a difference between men and women surfing on an elite level. There are psychological differences, physiological differences, culture differences and then some. It’s vast and it’s obvious. So let’s explore that.
Age, more than just a number
The most glaring difference is age. Women’s surfing is young and pretty. It’s a mix of power and beauty, skill and sexiness. A wild world that limbos between modeling and sport. There is no foreseeable 32-year-old champion.
On the men’s side, however, it’s a game of smarts and wisdom. The ropes are hard to learn and it takes years to acquire the know-how that could eventuate in a world title. There is no foreseeable 21-year-old champ.
Beyond age, though, are societal differences that distinguish lady from gent. On tour, the women co-exist, mostly, as one big happy family. They share clothing, they stay together, they party together. The men also exhibit a community mentality, but it exists on a bring your own basis. The bonding just isn’t there.
In the water
And — here’s the elephant in the room — there is a difference in the way the two genders surf. Men surf more powerfully, more innovative. Frankly, they surf better. They do bigger airs and better turns. But — and here’s the kicker — women are progressing way quicker than men. Their rate of improvement is glowing like a morning sun, their stock rising at a rate that Wall Street’s never before seen.
So what’s next? A young, beautiful female champ for the gals and a middle-aged, hyper-competitive freak on the men’s side? If history is our indicator, then yes. But when does history know all?
That’s why we keep watching.