Q&A With Traci Effinger.


Traci Effinger’s recently penned a passionate article on the issue of equity vs equality during the 2020 pipeline contest that you can read here https://infoamed.com/2020/03/26/long-read-clamdragger-sounds-off/

Infoamed contacted Traci to dig a little deeper into the issue, as well getting her perspective on what it’s like to surf the most hyper-masculine wave in the world in pipeline.

You recently wrote an article delving into the issue of equity vs equality in regard to the Pipeline competition. Could you give us a brief summary of your concerns?

I wrote my article delving into the issue of equity versus equality in regards to the Pipeline competition in order to raise awareness to the surfing and bodyboarding community.

Equality is not equity and that putting women on an equal playing field is not advocating or supporting women’s bodyboarding. Equality is the assumption that everyone benefits from the same supports. This is equal treatment. Equity is when everyone gets the supports they need (this is the concept of “affirmative action”), thus producing equity. Justice is when there are no supports or accommodations because the cause of the inequity was addressed.

The systematic barrier has been removed. Trying to say that women, juniors, and dropknee riders have an equal playing ground and then putting them into a prone men’s competition is not equitable and will not help the sport thrive.

Ideally would you prefer to see a stand-alone women’s competition or simply an altered system of allocating the place getters?

I would like to see a stand-alone women’s competition instead of an altered system of allocating women’s ranking.

I bodyboard with men all winter at Pipeline and I already know how I compare riding that wave to the men I see out in the water.

However, I rarely see any women bodyboarders in the lineup at Pipeline all year, and when these women make the dedication to come to Oahu and surf Pipeline in a competition, I want to know where I stand as a woman bodyboarder in comparison to other women at Pipe.

In your opinion are there any physical differences between women and men that would impact on them being able to compete in the same event on a bodyboard?

In my opinion and in recent scientific research (citing Joanna R. Parsonage, Edith Cowen University, Gender Differences in Physical Performance Characteristics of Competitive Surfers, 2018) “competitive male surfers have more developed physical performance characteristics in the upper and lower body than female surfers” (Parsonage, 2018).

Also, “maximal upper body strength is strongly associated with the ability to apply force in a sports-specific context” (Parsonage, 2018).

So, yes, I think there are physical differences between women and men that impact on their ability to compete in the same event on a bodyboard.

Do you see a symbolic value in women and men competing in the same event?

There is a symbolic value in women and men competing against each other in the same event.

Women continue to be lumped into the same category as men and suffer the losses for it. “Women are 47% more likely to suffer severe injuries in car crashes because safety features are designed for men”(Whiting , 2019).

This fact symbolizes how the structure and design of the bodyboarding contest is most beneficial to men. “Only 6 countries give women equal legal work rights as men” (Whiting, 2019).

The unequal balance of women versus men in the workplace and the pay gap differential symbolizes the lack of equal pay for women in bodyboarding contests and the lack of equal opportunities to compete in a women’s only division.

Talk us through what it’s like to try to get waves out at probably the most hyper-masculine wave in the world at Pipeline? Would you say that being a woman is a help or a hindrance out there?

Pipeline is a very hyper-masculine surf spot and conversely it is the least gender biased surf spot that I have ever surfed.

Everyone who is out on the big days takes the wave and rules very seriously.

It doesn’t matter who you are, or if you are a woman or man, it is frowned upon if you drop in on someone or ruin someone’s wave with your ignorance. It is an extremely dangerous wave and burning someone can potentially put another person’s life in danger.

I rarely see big intentional burns out there in comparison to most other spots on the north shore.

I have learned my place in the lineup and learned how to be ready to drop in the split second of an instant if a person paddles for a wave and then doesn’t go.

Being a woman has never helped me get waves at Pipeline. If anything, it has hindered me by having other newby surfers see that there is a woman in the lineup and it encourages them to paddle out and sit by me.

There is nothing more dangerous or annoying than have a new face at pipeline come sit right next to you and base their decisions to paddle for waves off of yours.

Any heavy or hectic stories you can share with us from surfing Pipeline with the big dogs?

About 8 years ago, I paddled out at Pipeline, thinking that I was a good enough bodyboarder to surf there. I paddled straight out to the peak, and sat right in the middle of the big dogs.

A set was coming and I started aggressively paddling to catch it. I think this surprised the boys because I looked over at them and they all told me to go. I caught the wave, straight from the peak and the rest was all a blur.

I don’t even remember the drop.

The wave literally ate me up and threw me around underneath it. I popped up, after being thrown around underneath the water forever, and my leash had broken and both of my fins had come off. Luckily, I was unscathed and just swam into shore with my tail between my legs.

I was so amazed at how different of wave Pipeline was and how unprepared I was to ride there; I didn’t paddle back out until the entire next season.

I am still learning how to ride Pipeline properly and how to get deeper and stall properly into barrels.

The growth I have witnessed in myself has been exponential and the best part is that I share that witness of growth with all the boys at Pipe too.

There is an unspoken respect for the local faces amongst each other at Pipeline because of the conditions and the waves that we have all seen each other surf. It is my favorite wave in the world I hope to continue to grow there for years to come.[/norebro_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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