chapter  7
19 Pages

A tale of two surf contests

Gender, sex and competitive surfing in South Africa during the late 1970s and early 1990s
ByGlen Thompson

This chapter historicises two surf contests as formative moments in South African amateur surfing during and after apartheid. The 1978 South African Surfing Championships illustrated the consolidation of surfing’s patriocolonial whiteness at a time when local amateur surfing was under pressure from the international boycott of apartheid sport and the ascendency of professional surfing. The 1992 Wella for Women’s Surfing Contest was the first women’s only surf event in the country and foregrounded the representation and the ongoing struggle for recognition of female white surfers within a male dominated sporting arena as South Africa transitioned towards democracy and global surf brands began commercialising women’s surfing. These surf contests opened up how political and socio-cultural events shaped the surfing, how patriarchy was produced within local organised surfing, and how the intersectionality of gender, sex, and race is crucial in tracing the changing social construction of competitive surfing identities in South Africa.