Riding the chilly waves, 12 women competed in a surfing contest Saturday morning as part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
The UCSB Public Safety Advisory Committee organized a surfing contest at Campus Point. Surfers competed to win $500 worth of surfing equipment donated to the contest by A.S. Finance Board. Ginger Gonzaga, the safety committee’s chair and organizer of the competition, said the contest was an outreach event and a display of feminine athleticism.
“We wanted to put on an event that displayed women’s strength rather than [propose] a policy that caters to some nonexistent inferiority,” Gonzaga said. “One of the main causes of violence toward women is that they are seen as weaker than men. Because surfing is a display of physical strength, it works against this misconception.”
Though registration for the event was free, women who wished to compete were required to fill out a questionnaire. Gonzaga said the outreach event was an opportunity to gain more information from women about what their needs are.
“I’ve been receiving good responses from the surfers and other females,” she said.
Four women competed in each of the three heats in the first round. Two women from each of the first heats went on to compete in the two semi-final heats. The contest’s final round was between two women.
Bianca Valenti, freshman pre-business economics major and member of the UCSB surf team, was awarded first prize. Runner-up was Laura Kinney, a sophomore aquatic biology major. Gonzaga said Valenti received an overall score of 9.5 out of 10; Kinney received an overall score of 8.5.
The prize will be awarded to Valenti at a later unspecified date. There was no prize for second place.
“We may be competing, but it’s not a competitive sport,” said Julie Burnett, a senior biology major who also competed in the event. “This event is to show women’s strength in sports and to have fun.”
Judges for the contest were sophomore environmental studies major Alex Kane of Men Against Rape and the UCSB Surfrider Foundation; Sara Crowley of Students Stopping Rape; Cari Simon of Take Back the Night; and junior business economics major Josh Dodsworth of Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity.
Dodsworth said that the ocean conditions Saturday were not ideal for competition.
“The wind is really down today, so we’ve only got waves about 1 to 3 feet high,” Dodsworth said. “We have to take the bad conditions into account when judging the surfers.”
Valenti said she agreed with the contest’s goal.
“I think women exhibiting strength through surfing is a good thing,” she said. “I think people don’t realize how much strength it takes to surf.”
Kane said Men Against Rape, an organization he belongs to, was involved in the event because of what the contest represented.
“Everything in the surfing world is about men,” Kane said. “Men Against Rape does everything we can do to increase equality between men and women, and we think this event works toward balancing the scale.”
Dodsworth said he thought women weren’t recognized as equal in the surfing community.
“I’ve seen girls out there that can rip as good, if not better, than I can,” he said. “I think women surfers get stereotyped and are not shown the respect they deserve.”