Girls School: The Extended Interview

posted by / News / February 9, 2007

It was the biggest chick event ever held: the Havaianas Beachley Classic, at Manly, Australia, its ${{{100}}},000 prizemoney out-ranking all the other women’s WCT events by at least one third. It also bore the distinction of being the ONLY major tour event EVER organized by an actual competing pro – in the whole wacky 30 year history of the operation.

The fact that Layne Beachley had to pull this contest together herself, selling it to companies who’d somehow slipped under the ASP’s marketing radar, seemed to us to sum up the state of the women’s pro scene. To wit, in recent years, in all kinds of subtle ways, it’s been left behind. The men have an umbrella sponsor (Foster’s), a union (World Professional Surfers), a Dream Tour, and all the surfer votes on the ASP Board. The women … well, they have none of that, and this year, just to rub it in, they lost Teahupo’o.


This is why SURFING Magazine decided we’d ask some of the chicks out to dinner at a slicko Manly restaurant on the final weekend of the Havaianas contest. We wanted to know what life was like for a group of surfers who all too often fly under ALL the sport’s radars, not just the ASP’s. But if we were worried we’d get whining wahines, we needn’t have. These women are classic. As Layne herself says: “There is a difference between men’s and women’s surfing…we talk about sex all the time.”


Participants

Layne Beachley, 34, six time world pro champion driven, intelligent, hometown celebrity (the restaurant we met in actually serves a cocktail called a Beachley)
Jessi Miley-Dyer, 20, world pro junior champion, current WCT ranking fourth, ex-champion junior swimmer, possessor of what she calls “a bad personality”
Stephanie Gilmore, 18, heir apparent to the crown, wildcard winner of the Beachley event, humble, mellow, kind of a born winner
Keala Kennelly, 28, ranked 13, Teahupo’o and Pipe charger, excellent taste in many areas, sardonic, sexy, sayer of the punchlineNick Carroll, moderator/victim

N (Explains the mag’s idea): Doing the book about Lisa (Andersen) really opened my eyes. Lisa’s story comes to a bit of a head in the mid-‘90s, and it fed back into this big girls’ boom at the time, this big door opening up and shoving itself down the industry’s throat..

L: Lisa made us realise it was OK to be a girl and surf. When I was growing up in the ‘70s and ‘80s, the way I watched the girls before us, is that they dressed and acted and did everything like boys. ‘Cause they wanted the respect and recognition of guys and they thought the only way they were gonna get it was to act like one. And all it did was detract from the recognition and respect they were due. Like… remember all those tracksuit pants that looked like they had boardshorts under ‘em?

(Everyone else kinda shrugs)

L: I dunno, you’re all too young. (Laughter) They’re all staring at me like what the f–k?…. I just remember all these women walking around in this hideous blokewear.

K: That’s a great name for a label! Blokewear.

L: I thought, why are these women pretending? Then Lisa went ahead and didn’t pretend anything. Lisa actually fell for it for a while but then she said, ‘I want to be a woman!” and broke down the door.

K: I think a lot of the reason why girls were dressing like guys and seemingly trying to be guys was that they wanted to wear surf industry brands, but there were no women’s lines in the brands. A big thing that came with Lisa was Roxy, Billabong Girls, and OK, we can wear our clothing labels, our surf brand labels ‘cause we’re surfers…

N: What did you wear instead?

K: I wore boy’s boardshorts.

L: Me too. The first boardshorts I wore were Mambo and Billabong. And I wore Cheetah bikinis and swimsuits. But they weren’t made to surf in. I remember taking off at Manly one day and pushing up and the (bikini) clip came undone, and all the boys were yelling “Don’t worry about it!” Yeah sure fellas. Not much to look at but I’m still not letting you look.

K: I bought the littlest men’s boardshorts, and they were still ginormous.

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