Women invited to surf at prestigious Eddie Aikau Big Wave contest for first time ever

Keala Kennelly made history as the first woman in the competition in 2018 (Twitter: Keala Kennelly)
11:19am, Mon 11 Nov 2019
CBAD8A00-D2B9-4E0E-ADDF-D0366C357A34 Created with sketchtool. E9A4AA46-7DC3-48B8-9CE2-D75274FB8967 Created with sketchtool. 65CCAE04-4748-4D0F-8696-A91D8EB3E7DC Created with sketchtool.

For the first time ever nine women have been invited to join the oldest big-wave surfing contest in the world for its 34th event.

The Eddie Aikau Big Wave Challenge is held annually in Hawaii and is the oldest and most prestigious big-wave contest in the world.

Female competitors have traditionally been excluded from the elite invitational competition until Keala Kennelly from Hawaii made history as the first female to join the fold in 2018.

And Sabrina Brennan, who is the co-founder of the committee for equity in women's surfing, is hopeful this could be the start of a larger move towards equality.

She said: “I see this as a huge step forward.

“I hope that eventually we’ll get to a point where there’s an equal number of men and women invited to compete.”

She went on to say that it doesn't yet make sense to invite equal numbers because there are not yet enough women to take on the daunting 40-foot waves, but has not denied the possibility of this occurring in the future.

The first big-wave competition to invite female surfers was the Pe’ahi Challenge in 2016 on Maui. 

Since then, female surfers including Andrea Moller, Paige Alms and Raquel Heckert have successfully campaigned for a women's heat at the Mavericks Challenge in Half Moon Bay with equal pay to the men. 

The World Surf League has since announced equal pay at all of its competitions.

The opening ceremony for 'The Eddie' will take place on December 5 in Waimea Bay on the North Shore of Oahu.

Sign up to our newsletter