5 Women Who Gave Zero F*cks
Is there a female version of Mason Ho? If there is, she’s hard to come by.
Women have long been expected to look beautiful and act 'proper.' Of course, not all of us subscribe to this sterile image; many salty sea mavens have taken it upon ourselves to tear the stereotype to shreds. What follows is a selection of stories about rebellious females who have lived the surfing life on their own terms.
Kim Hamrock, a.k.a. Danger Woman, will never paddle for shore after a violent wipeout, and especially not after an altercation — of which she’s had thousands.
Guys weren’t always keen to let her have waves, but she took care of it – sometimes by offering them “special” brownies to keep them quelled on the beach, and other times with her fists. She’s never started a fight, mind you, but she’s never backed down from one either.
Once, when she was surfing her local break, someone had the audacity to tell her to leave the “contest area,” and allegedly threw a punch when she refused. “The fight ended when both our legs were in each others crotches underwater, and our arms couldn’t reach each other. I came up furious, took off on a wave, and just ripped — I mean, I was stoked,” she told me with a chuckle. “Then I paddled straight back out, pissed, threw my board in his face, and I went, ‘I’m gonna surf here.” She later discovered that the antagonizer was a professional wrestler.
Danger Woman’s scrapping days are over, though there still are plenty of men in the water who have an inflated sense of entitlement to waves. Nowadays she laughs it off – but if someone hops her, she “hops them back twice.” She spends her days riding funky boards in Southern California or chasing the world’s spookiest waves. She’s competed against men at Puerto Escondido, and was the first woman to ride Dungeons in South Africa. Most importantly, she’s inspired many a woman to stand up for themselves without apologizing.
Lakey Peterson is the future of women’s surfing, and she’s focused on one thing: winning. Just before she donned the yellow jersey at this year's World Championship Tour kickoff event, she spoke of her determination to secure her first CT win – entirely forgetting that she’d already won the US Open in 2012. This tunnel vision and hard work pays off. She's now on a winning streak, and looking formidable. Her above-the-lip action and ferocious speed carves would give some of the guys a serious run for their money.
A tomboy from Santa Barbara, Lakey grew up dominating all kinds of co-ed sports and shredding half pipes. She studied under the tutelage of Rincon, one of California's finest right-handers, and at age 14 became the first woman to land an air in competition. Her head is fully in the surfing game, as she makes clear with every with every slashing maneuver and every triumphant claim. Her style of surfing verges on homicidal, and it’s damn inspiring.
‘Aunty’ Rell Sunn surfed her way through a 14-year battle with breast cancer as the world looked on in adoration. Despite strict doctor’s orders to stay at home, she spent all of her free time in the sea until her very last day. She underwent a mastectomy, bone marrow transplants, and several rounds of chemo, all the while maintaining that surfing was the best therapy.
Known as the Queen of Makaha, Rell’s career was long and prosperous. She’s rightfully credited with being a true pioneer of women’s competitive surfing. Not many ladies dared paddle out in the 50s, so she went up against men, often picking them off one after another to make finals. Having laid the groundwork for equal rights to waves, she helped establish the first professional women’s tour. Aunty Rell was the original face of revolutionary women’s surfing, and the epitome of a life lived in graceful dedication to the sea.
Huntington Beach circa 1985 can’t have been the easiest place for a fugitive sixteen-year-old girl from Florida to make a name. Andersen’s parents’ disapproval of surfing was so deep-seated that it led her father to destroy her prized board as she watched. Not willing to give in, she left a note and split for California, saying she was off to become the women’s surfing champion. That’s what she did -- four times in a row. She couch surfed, slept on the beach, and hustled for waves at the pier until she won the respect of the tough crowd.
This is where she incubated the revolutionary, aggressive yet calculated style of surfing that carried her to surfing stardom. Her influence is evident to this day in many ways. For instance, her prolific career with Roxy brought us the women’s board short, and every time I don’t have to spend my tube time picking my bikini out of my ass, I have the matriarch of modern women’s surfing to thank.
No one in their right mind would give big wave surfing another go after washing to the beach unconscious at 80-foot Nazaré, but Maya would. Laird Hamilton, among others, insisted she had no business being out there -- that she lacked the skill, and her team should have prevented her from taking off. But that contention reeks of sexism, and while Laird knows a thing or two about big wave surfing, he has a track record of making ignorant comments about women. (Did you know that menstruation is the number one cause of shark attacks?) Maya went down at Naz after hitting a bump so intense that it broke her ankle on impact, and while she may be more famous for her wipeouts than actual waves ridden, it’s hard to imagine anyone riding that one out. In any case, she later described experience as “a bit painful" in an interview, and was back behind a ski as soon as her ankle healed. When she’s not flirting with death in the world’s most lethal waves, she’s enjoying that sweet, sweet Lululemon sponsorship money, and she doesn’t give a flying fuck what Laird has to say about it.