Interview: Mimi LaMontagne
Bec Woods has spent the last eight years of her life as one of the elite female surfers in the world. She’s seen the tour progress, digress, and everything in between, and in light of recent French shenanigans, she has something to say about it.
I think when you look at a decision like this, everyone involved has to take partial blame. The sponsors, the organisation and the surfers combined. The annoying thing is the Women’s Tour, in the last five years, has lost so many events in good waves. We were restricted to anything that was thrown at us. External factors such as GFC and the recession has seen the decline of quality waves and a loss of power throughout the athletes in surfing.
The event is now postponed. For me, personally, I’ve had to pay for a return flight from LAX which is $2,300 USD, ten nights accommodation for $750 USD plus food and a few days car hire. Totaling around $4000 USD. Roxy is only legally entitled to pay for expenses for the next event (in September).
Here’s the catch, Roxy knows we have a final event in October and they’re coming out for it anyways. They only have to pay for the expenses of the event in September, so if we already have a flight to Portugal then they just pay the Portugal to France portion. What that means is that for a ‘professional sport’, I’m about to pay $1500 AUD out of my own pocket, which I would have much rather spent going to the snow for a week then going to Biarritz (I’ve been there eight times) to have a cake and ass party at an event that was bound to be flat, as it’s the middle of summer in Europe!!? What pisses me off most is that, essentially, it’s Roxy and Quiksilver’s fuck up that I have to pay for. And yes, I sit on the beach and lifeguard for a living.
The men deserve the world-class waves they get. I also believe the women should get some stops that are challenging and barreling. When I first came on, we had that and I had to learn so fast! I got my behind kicked by the females with experience ten times over. However, those events I remember so clearly as life changing and beautiful experiences. 1-2 foot onshore shit I have done to death and can’t remember anything about any of those events. Maybe a good night out and some cool people I met… I watched one heat of men’s in Brasil this year and it was so boring. Apart from the claims, maybe… Who wants to watch that shit? Apparently, this is changing in 2014. I look forward to it.
If I could change the tour, I would have a few of the Women’s events as stand alone in great, challenging waves. To lose Honolua Bay, Fiji, Teahupoo, J-Bay, The Search in my years on tour has been really difficult to adapt to. Motivation is hard to find because you dream of surfing the best waves with the best surfers and being challenged. To sit in a heat to qualify last year in Huntington Beach as the deciding heat at dead high tide with a restart really made me question my decision to continue to try. I also think each female has something individual to offer, something inspirational, but you never get to see it.
Then, when it comes to the Roxy video, I think that for an event video to do a team rider introduction was a bit weird. Like, are you going for a team rider intro or an event? If it is a surfing event, then surfers just wake up and drive to the beach? It was shot well and it was hot, I liked it, but just add a surf clip in at the end and people might not get so angry. I don’t think it represented what we do as a sport well at all. If an athlete wants to be represented like that, then it’s up to them. Not sure if that’s the type of publicity I would want for my company, which is in a shit-load of debt. Ok, so you want to market to an older audience, maybe do it not at an event that’s marketed to 12-18 year olds. I don’t know, just figure out your market.
I don’t think Roxy thought it would have the reaction it received, maybe a bit of it all [objectification, overreaction, just plain publicity]. They had a plan to release the series of clips and waited too long to release the second one of Steph ripping. The first one, I was like, is that Steph or Rosy? It was the Roxy Pro intro with no surfing. We didn’t do any surfing, it fits well.
When you look at what they were advertising, it’s all over the place. An event? An intro of a team rider? A draw card ad for waking up in the morning and going for a paddle as a female surfer? I think attention needs to be drawn to the Women’s Tour because no one knows how to market it… Especially not the ex-pro-surfer males who are placed in Marketing positions of big corporations and believe most of the women shouldn’t be getting any more money than they should. The problems have so many layers I can’t even begin. Get people in there who understand basic marketing principles and develop it again, from the ground up, instead of the blind leading the blind.
To the Public: Thanks for the support, be the change you want to be in the world, squeaky wheel gets the oil, for all the shit I just said the last 11 years of my life have been the most amazing, challenging and life altering years of my life. The first 18 years could never have taught me what I’ve learnt. I feel passionately for my sport and lifestyle and really want to see it go to the places it deserves.