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Gender Inequity in Adaptive Surfing Spurs Backlash

Dani Burt

Adaptive Surfers from around the world are expressing displeasure with a new scoring policy. 

The sport of adaptive surfing uses modified boards and equipment to allow people with physical limitations to ride ocean waves. The sport has been gaining popularity worldwide after the Hawaii-based organization Access Surf started the first ever adaptive surfing contest 11 years ago.

Last week we brought you to Waikiki Beach for that event - the Hawaii Adaptive Surfing Championship.

After the competition wrapped up, many of the athletes went home to prepare for other events, including the Adaptive Surfing World Championship in San Diego this December. But recent news about that competition is sparking some controversy.

The International Surfing Association announced that women’s scores would only be weighted at 50% of the men’s scores in the team competition. Although that’s an improvement from last year when women’s scores weren’t counted at all, it has still prompted a backlash from many in the adaptive surfing community.

Dani Burt is an adaptive surfer on Team USA and was a 2017 World Champion. She authored a letter to the ISA in protest of the decision. Burt's letter was signed by 17 adaptive surfers, event organizers, and advocates around the world.

We reached out to the International Surfing Association for comment. They declined to comment at this time but will be releasing an official statement on the scoring issue next week.

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