Brazilian men and Australian women proved dominant at the U.S. Open of Surfing, which wrapped up Sunday in Huntington Beach, California. Brazil’s Filipe Toledo beat out his fellow countryman William Cardoso to take home the $100,000 prize in the men’s tournament.
“I’m just super stoked and excited, I’m shaking,” Toledo told the Orange County Register. “I just do what I love to do.”
On the women’s side of things, Australia’s Tyler Wright scored the highest to beat out fellow Aussie Stephanie Gilmore, a five-time world champion. Wright got a check for $60,000. And no, you’re not the first one who’s wondered why the women’s payout is so much lower. Luckily, there’s an explanation.
Jessi Miley-Dyer, pro surfer turned deputy commissioner of the ASP World Tour which runs the U.S. Open, insists the payouts between men and women are actually equal once you take into account the competition. “[T]he ASP has elevated prize money from $120,000 per event to $250,000, making professional surfing the only global sport to have absolute parity between men’s and women’s prize purses, ie., 36-man field at $500,000 and 18-woman field at $250,000,” Miley Dyer said in an interview with Cooler magazine earlier this year.
“All the girls have been ripping this entire event, so it’s pretty special to be up here right now,” Wright said (via Orange Country Register) as she took to the winner’s stage. “It’s been a long event and really enjoyable for me.”
The tournament was also more enjoyable for the audience. Unlike last year, when the rowdy crowd spontaneously rioted, breaking windows, toppling portable toilets and vandalizing cars, this year’s crowd was cool, calm and a tad bit smaller, the Orange County Register reports.
That could be because local police decided to take no chances. The Register writes:
“Concerned that the event had gotten out of hand, residents, city officials and law-enforcement personnel took extra precautions this year to prevent another riot. There were no more free concerts, and the event ended earlier than last year. Portable toilets were strapped to weights, and security companies checked bags for alcohol as police officers on horseback patrolled the crowds.”
Not to be outdone, a group of surfers across the Atlantic made headlines this weekend, although it wasn’t at the U.S. Open. Surfers Matt Stanley and Andrew Flounders were surfing off the coast in northeast England when a furry friend joined them.
“We had been in for about 45 minutes when the seal came along,” Stanley told the BBC. “I’ve never seen a seal that close up, never mind one sitting on [my] board.”
The seal may have known what he was doing, however. “We have surfboards here, which the seals like to lie on,” a spokesperson for the Cornish Seal Sanctuary in Gweek, England, told the BBC. “They can be very friendly so something like this can happen even in the wild, but we would still advise people not to touch them.”