Hawaii honors its women surfers

March 12, 2020 | Surfing
Women's surfing: Hawaii recognized its heroines | Photo: Cestari/WSL

Seven female surfers have been honored for their contribution to women's surfing history in Hawaii.

Carissa Moore, Keala Kennelly, Paige Alms, Honolua Blomfield, Betty Depolito, Carol Philips, and Sabrina Brennan received certificates of achievement on the Hawaii House of Representatives.

The honorees were welcomed by State representatives Lauren Matsumoto and Sean Quinlan at the Hawaii State Capitol.

"Today, we have the pleasure of honoring some of the most outstanding female athletes in the world," said Quinlan.

"My district has some of the world's most important surf locations, and these communities have produced some of the world's most accomplished surfers."

"Hawaii is known as the birthplace for surfing, and we hold some of the most prestigious surf competitions in the world."

"However, we are still struggling to have equal opportunities for our male and female competitors. Today I am honored to recognize women who have been tireless advocates for equality in women's surfing," concluded Sean Quinlan.

Hawaii: the State honored the accomplishments of its women surfers and gender equality advocates | Photo: Hawaii House of Representatives

The ceremony took place on March 10, 2020, to coincide with the National Women's History Month.

"This year, we're celebrating the 100th anniversary of women gaining the right to vote," added Matsumoto.

"Hawaii has produced some of the most outstanding athletes in the world, several of whom we're honoring today."

"But each of these women is much more than just an incredible athlete - they're also powerful advocates for equality in competitive surfing."

"There's still a long way to go before there's true equality: equal pay, representation, and access to world qualifying competitions in Hawaii are just some of the vital causes our honorees today are fighting for."

"These women have spent decades honing their craft and truly becoming masters at what they do. Among them, they hold multiple local and world championship titles," concluded Lauren Matsumoto.

Carissa Moore: The Olympic Power Surfer

Carissa Moore: the most successful female Hawaiian surfer of all time | Photo: Cestari/WSL

Carissa Moore is a four-time world champion from Honolulu and ranked number one in the world.

Carissa started racking up wins at National Scholastic Surfing Association (NSSA) junior surf competitions and top spots at the International Surfing Association (ISA) World Junior Surfing Championships, where she helped Hawaii win a team victory.

She clinched a record 11 NSSA amateur titles and, aged 18, she became the youngest person - male or female - to win a surfing world title.

Moore was also the first woman to compete in the Triple Crown of Surfing, Hawaii's most prestigious contest series featuring the world's best male surfers.

She surfs with remarkable power and finesse and is known for her work to help young girls develop confidence and pursue their dreams.

Carissa will represent the United States at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Keala Kennelly: The Swell Hunter

Keala Kennelly: a Big Wave Tour champion | Photo: McKenna/WSL

Keala Kennelly is a professional surfer from Kauai, Hawaii, who began competing professionally at the age of 17 and quickly rose to the top of the ranks as one of the best female surfers in the world.

Victory after victory, tour after tour, Keala spent a decade ranked in the top ten of the ASP World Championship Tour winning accolades and setting records.

Making history for female surfing, she won the first women's big wave contest at the Nelscott Big Wave Classic in 2010, opening the door for more female big wave surfing competitions in the future, like the Big Wave Tour, which she won in 2018.

Paige Alms: The First Female Big Wave World Champion

Paige Alms: a fearless big wave surfing pioneer | Photo: Lynton/WSL

Paige Alms is a self-taught and self-motivated big wave surfer from Maui.

At the age of 15, Paige's first big wave session had her hooked. She worked hard, literally.

Alms worked as many jobs as she could to pay for her gear and travel expenses so that she could compete in surf tours.

While most surfers had sponsors to fund their ability to compete, Paige did it on her own.

And it paid off. Paige was the very first female Big Wave Tour world champion and has won two world titles.

Alms is a surfer that is deeply invested in surfing for a greater purpose: one that is based on values that inspire women to dream big and accomplish their goals.

One of her goals is the Olympics Games.

Honolua Blomfield: The Longboarding Queen

Honolua Blomfield: a two-time World Longboard Tour champion | Photo: Hain/WSL

Honolua Blomfield started surfing when she was only two years old.

From day one, this native of Haleiwa, Hawaii, spent her life outdoors enjoying activities such as hiking, skateboarding, and stand-up paddleboarding.

She competed in her first surf competition, the Menehune Surf Contest, at four years old.

Since then, she has competed in both shortboard and longboard competitions and has won in both, but has truly excelled on her longboard, recently becoming the World Longboard Tour champion for the second time.

With two world titles under her belt, Honolua continues to surf around the globe from competition to competition.

Betty Depolito: The Tireless Event Promoter and Surfer

Betty Depolito: a legendary Hawaiian surfer and event promoter | Photo: Depolito Archive

Betty "Banzai" Depolito made a monumental impact in the surfing world since 1979 for a while, traveling the world, and competing as a top 10-rated international surfer.

She is one of the first women to have caught 18-to-20-foot waves.

Betty has helped push women's surfing to a whole new level by pioneering women's surfing in places like Waimea Bay, Pipeline, and Sunset Beach.

A videographer, producer, and director, Betty has highlighted the accomplishments of female surfers through numerous sports programs, documentaries.

Depolito also served as contest director and media coordinator for contests like the Pipeline Women's Pro and Red Bull Queen of Waimea Bay.

Her work continues to promote trailblazing female athletes and lay the groundwork for future generations of female surfers.

Carol Philips: The Pipeline Pioneer

Carol Philips: the first woman to compete against men at Pipeline | Photo: NSSG

Carol won two national bodyboarding championships and was the first woman to compete against men at Pipeline.

She was the first woman to hold a permit to run a contest at Pipeline, which led to the women's bodyboarding world championship.

It was the first competition of its kind and, at one point, was the longest-running women's wave sport event in the world.

She also founded the North Shore Surf Girls, a surf school with the goal of providing a fun, inclusive, and safe experience for people of all ages and from all over the world to experience surfing.

She continues her work as a powerful advocate of sharing surfing, Hawaii's gift to the world, with new generations of surfers.

Sabrina Brennan: The Gender Equality Soldier

Sabrina Brennan: a political advocate for the inclusion of women in big wave surf competitions | Photo: Brennan Archive

Sabrina Brennan is a political advocate for the inclusion of women in big wave surf competitions.

She has served as a commissioner on the San Mateo Harbor Commission since 2012, where she successfully advocated for the inclusion of women in the Mavericks big wave surf competition.

After her success with the Mavericks big wave surf competition, she co-founded the Committee for Equity in Women's Surfing that has led the charge for quality, inclusion, equal access, and pay parity in professional surfing.

Brennan's work is the subject of two documentary films and hundreds of news stories, including the New York Times Magazine feature titled "The Fight for Gender Equality in One of the Most Dangerous Sports on Earth."

Her perseverance and determination benefits every single woman surfer and has allowed them to showcase their athletic talent around the globe.

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