Dimity Stoyle.
Dimity Stoyle. Warren Lyman

Is there still a glass ceiling for some female surfers?

ALANA Blanchard has a World Surfing League ranking of 133 and 1.3 million Instagram followers, while Dimity Stoyle is ranked 15 but only has 13,000 followers.

So which girl has made more money out of their surfing career?

Hint: It's not the girl with more surfing talent.

Veteran surfer and Griffith University lecturer Dr Roslyn Franklin made waves recently with her research into the sexualisation of female surfers.

Despite agreeing with the stark disparity between men and women's surf sponsorship, former and current professional female surfers have played down individual's role in promoting a sexist culture.

Former world number two Serena Brooke said the tour had become completely driven by social media since her retirement.

"Their image is based on the whole image of the ass," she said.

"I remember when Alana first wore a G-string at 12 or 14 and we all thought 'whoa, that's heavy'.

"I think a lot of young girls are clueless.

"They don't think there's anything wrong with it, and maybe there isn't.

"Maybe it's normalised how sexual it's become."

Alana Blanchard shows off Air NZ's Economy Skycouch.
Alana Blanchard shows off Air NZ's Economy Skycouch.

Blanchard first stepped out on the WSL scene as a young teenager wearing G-string bottoms, which was unheard of at the time.

Blanchard openly admits her assets, and not her surfing talent, are the reason she has eight major sponsors and a larger following than Kelly Slater, while many of the top female surfers are struggling to secure just one major sponsor.

Despite being 23 and yet to land a major sponsor, Buderim product Dimity Stoyle defiantly supported Blanchard's image.

Stoyle admitted that sponsors were obviously paying Blanchard for her looks, but said the sport had become about more than just surfing.

"It all comes down to what the companies want, and they are run by men who would rather see a sexy body," she said.

"Companies want maximum exposure and if she posts a sexy photo, millions of people see it instantly.

"She's grown up modelling and wearing things like that, so she's just using surfing to her advantage.

"She's really smart the way she's marketed herself."

Do you believe it's fair that men and women are marketed differently in surfing?

This poll ended on 31 July 2015.

Current Results

No way, they should be recognised for their surfing talent, not their looks


Yes, sorry it's just the way the world works these days


Why do we pay surfers so much anyway?


This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.


Head of marketing at Ripcurl Global, Neil Ridgway agreed that men and women were marketed very differently, but believes that was because men and women inherently had different tastes.

"Your question assumes that surfing talent and marketability are two different things," he said.

"They are not.

"In the sport sponsorship game - man or woman - if you are a great athlete with high performance skills and true influence that connects with customers and fans, you will be rewarded.

"Dimity is a great surfer, I love watching her heats, but why would we sponsor her?

"You need to be getting results which rank you in the top five to be influential."

But there lies the contrast, according to former national surfing coach and Coast local Ian Portingale.

Based on talent, a female has to be ranked in the top five in the world to be sponsored, whereas men can have much worse rankings and maintain an abundance of sponsorship based purely on talent.

Portingale said it was "crazy" that women were being judged on their looks instead of their surfing ability.

"You can be the ugliest male on tour and still make a squillion dollars," he said.

"I've seen some women who don't fit the image get a lot less money, even if they're winning."

But Portingale remains optimistic as women's participation numbers and depth of field at an elite level have increased dramatically in the past couple of years.

Stoyle said she felt no pressure to post anything she didn't feel comfortable with, regardless of sponsorship.

"I just portray my social media to be who I am exactly," she said.

"For me, I'm getting paid enough to surf and do the things that I love.

"It's a dream come true."



Alana Blanchard:

  • WSL ranking: 133
  • Instagram followers: 1.3 million
  • Major sponsors: Ripcurl, Reef, Spy, Channel Islands, GoPro, Futures, Rockstar Energy Drink, Royal Hawaiian Orchards.

Dimity Stoyle:

  • WSL ranking: 15
  • Instagram followers: 13,000
  • Major sponsors: none

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