Source Documents
jarratt : women surfers, 1977. 

Phil Jarratt : Professional Women Surfers, 1977.
Phil Jarratt : Broads Who Ride Boards.
Photographs by Martin Tullemans, Simon Chipper, and Gary Terrell.

Number 81, June 1977.

women surfers from mainland America and Hawaii visiting Australia for the professional competitions, the Velcro International and the Surfabout Women's $2000, Phil Jarratt struggles to come to terms with the rolling tide of feminism:
Lynn Boyer is an attractive brunette with big eyes; Hawaii's Rell Sunn is dark and shapely; Elaine Davis is honey blonde with an engaging smile.

Within five years, Australian women surfers had reached the standard of their sisters over the sea, Wollongong's Jenny Gill winning the 1982 World Surfing Championships.
Pam Burridge  entered in her first competition at Manly in 1977, won the Australian Championships in 1979  aged 14, and was women's world champion in 1990.
Other successful Australians included Wendy Botha (ex-South Africa,1989), Pauline Menczer (1993) Layne Beachley (1998), Chelsea Georgeson (2005) and Stephanie Gilmore (2007).

The caption
to Jericho Poppler's satirical pose in swimsuit and heels (or is it Betty Grable?) was probably lost on most younger readers, Ms. Gable famously the most popular pin-up girl of WW2. 
While the use of broads in the article's title was even then disparaging, in the same issue the editor inaugurated a new page for knee-boards, under the header Cripples Corner.

Page 2

(Margo Godfrey-Oberg)

Page 29
Broads Who Ride Boards
"We're just normal girls"
by Phil Jarratt

Elaine Davis .... from behind
Photo Simon Chipper

Margo Oberg, coffin ride
Photo Martin Tullemans

Jericho Poppler ... or is it Betty Grable
Photo Gary Terrell
"Women's competitive surfing," said Jericho Poppler, casting a dis­approving glance along an all-male judging panel, "would be a lot better if women were running it."
Jericho, 25, from Long Beach, California, is perhaps the most vocal member of what she calls "the Billie Jean King movement" in women's surfing.
She alternates between satin pit suits for the beach and stoles and low-cut evening gowns for social wear.
She's not your average militant feminist, but then in the world of surfing women have only recently been classed as people and they don't look like getting the vote for quite a while.
So, in the context she's quite a radical.

Jericho was one of a large contingent of American women surfers here for the first real women's surfing contests ever held in Australia — the Velcro International and the Surfabout
Women's $2000.
And their presence seems certain to lead to a major breakthrough for Australian female surfers.
In conditions that ranged from eight feet Bells to two feet Narrabeen the visitors showed that women really can surf, and that Australia — the country that prides itself in leading the world in male surfing — is being left behind.
The visiting ladies were quick to explain why.

"The women here are intimidated," said Nancy Emerson, 25, a Maui resident who has surfed in Hawaii since 1961.
Nancy quit competition in 1969 but the advent of pro surfing for women has lured her back.
She started competing again last year and took out a first in women's trials at Haleiwa.

"Australian guys don't seem to en­courage their girls to surf," said Margo Oberg, former world champion and considered by many to be the finest woman surfer ever.
Margo took out
her world title in Victoria in 1970.
"There seemed to be more girls surfing in  Australia back then," she said.

"I haven't seen any outstanding female surfers here," said Lynn Boyer, born in Pennsylvania, now living in Hawaii and Margo's closest rival.
"The guys in Hawaii take us surfing with them," said Elaine Davis, 26.
"Here they stare at us like we're freaks."
"Less beer and more manners is what they need," said Linda Davoli, the top female surfer on the US east coast.

Can all this be true?
I wondered as I skulked off, my ears burning and my national male pride shattered.
Us Aussie blokes can't be that bad, can we?
I recalled a session I had at Ala Moana a couple of years ago.
The only way I could get a wave was to drop in on girls.
One of them kicked out and speared me in the leg.

I wandered
over to the officials shed at Bells Beach, where IPS organiser Randy Rarick had hold of the public address system and was imploring the women competitors to paddle for the horizon to save themselves from death at the hands of an approaching monster set.
Rarick was smirking like a true sexist pig and the Australian male officials were beside themselves with amusement.
Jericho Poppler was nowhere in sight.
I buried my head in my coat, had a hearty chuckle and went away to com­pose myself before getting to work on a serious look at the broads who ride boards.

The girls do have a point.
Australia has never been very kindly disposed towards women in sport.
Dawn Fraser and Evonne Goolagong have been the butt of a million off-colour pub jokes, and the rigours of the surfing life have made it doubly hard for female surfers to be accepted.
Very few have been

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good enough to exercise their rights to waves in crowded conditions, and there's no such thing as gallantry out in the water.
Phyllis O'Donnnell, the best we had to offer for many years, would never have gotten out of a heat in a men's event and the champions who have followed her seem to have been content with their lot as second class surfers.
Better than sitting in the panel van for hours on end.

The women who came to Australia for the contests were singing a different tune.
Jericho and friends drove their own car and yelled at male drop ins.
They wen serious about being surfers.

Women's surfing went pro with the Hang Ten in 1975, and since then the number of contests has grown rapidly and the band of women trying to make a living from them has multiplied.
Surfers like Margo Oberg and Nancy Emerson have returned to competition, and rising stars like Linda Davoli and Lynn Boyer are constantly pushing the standard higher.
The women are serious about their surfing and they're serious about being women.
Jericho Poppler: "Money has changed our whole approach.
We try to surf well, stay in shape and look good."

Rell Sunn &
 Kim McKenzie
Margo Oberg: "A feminine approach has more to do with the way the girls act on the beach, the clothes they wear, their language and the way they carry themselves.
In the past some girls have tried to play the tough guy but these days they date the boys, they get married, they're just normal girls."
As with their male counterparts, the female pros are image conscious.
They're particularly eager to crush the male myth that female athletes are dykes, and looking at them, the myth doesn't stand a chance.
Lynn Boyer is an attractive brunette with big eyes; Hawaii's Rell Sunn is dark and shapely; Elaine Davis is honey blonde with an engaging smile.
Yeah, I think we can safely put away the hormone tester.

Margo Oberg took out both the contests and $2000 in prize money.
She was happy with her performance and happy with the general advancement of women's surfing.
"Women are developing more of an aggressive attitude to their surfing now," she said.
"It seems to be slower in taking off in Australia but it is happening.
We're getting more into manoeuvres.
It used to be the thing to arch and look feminine, like it was no effort at all.
Now we're realising that radical surfing is worth more points."
Margo lives a quiet life on Kaui with her husband,
She teaches surfing at a resort hotel and surfs junk rather than compete with crowds.
Competition, she says, is not really her cup of tea, but it's financially rewarding now and she is right behind moves for
indepen­dent women's contests.

"Contests are exciting in a way, but to tell you the truth I'm happier when I'm surfing with my husband.
We have a really good go-behind system.
We ride the same waves a lot."

Lynn Boyer

Margo rates Lynn Boyer as her main threat in contests.
Lynn burst into prominence with wins in the '76 Hang Ten at Malibu and this year's Lancers World Cup.
She surfs in a low crouch like Larry Bertleman, and pulls the most radical bottom turn ever seen from a woman.
Lynn is stoked in the development of women's pro events but she says there are "still only a couple of girls who can really surf".
She's surfed Sunset at twelve feet plus but prefers Chunns or Laniaekia at around six feet.
With $7000 pocketed in 18 months, she is second only to Margo in prize money stakes.

Jericho Poppler, as I mentioned earlier, has very definite ideas about the future of women's pro surfing, and is committed to it.
But, she says, there is another side to the story.
"I'm right up there at the top but I can barely cover expenses.
I guess I'm pretty extravagant but there's not enough money in it yet for too many people to make surfing a full-time occupation.
And the circuit can be pretty gruelling.
You're on the road like a performer and if you're not married it can be a hassle.
You're away all the time, your boyfriend's bummed out, you're bummed out; it's tough, it gets lonely."
Jericho rates Mickey Dora and Nat Young as her all-time favourite male surfers, and Joyce Hoffman as the outstanding female of days gone by.
Currently she favours Shaun Tomson and "just about all the Aussies".
"Lynn Boyer is the lady of the moment."
She believes women's pro surfing won't be into full swing for another five years when "some of us give up com­petition and start organising".


Margo's Quiver


Margo's figure

Bells stategy meeting
Page 31
"Aussie guys need less beer and more manners."

Becky Benson
, from Oahu's North Shore, comes from a family devoted to surfing.

Her father, Colonel Tom Benson, is a surfing photographer and movie distributor, her mother never misses a contest and her elder sister, Blanche, was 1972 world tandem champ.
Becky, who finished third in the Surfabout, doesn't particularly fancy the idea of being twirled around the shoulders of a musclebound male surfer and goes it alone in the surf. Originally from Texas, she has surfed in Hawaii for ten years.
On her first trip to Australia she was stoked to compete in good quality waves.
"Usu­ally in contests they stick us out in the worst possible conditions."
Becky thinks women are a little restricted by the size of North Shore waves but they are overcoming it.
"Right now I think my limit would be around ten feet.
I prefer around six feet.
I lost my board in a huge set at Bells and it freaked me out a little, but if we're gonna call ourselves pro surfers we're gonna have to learn to handle all kinds of waves.
And that's what I want to do — travel around the world as a pro surfer."


Linda Davoli, 20, learnt to surf in the icy waves of New Jersey.
She has spent the past two winters on the North Shore and is starting to come to the fore in contests.
She was unlucky to
have an interference ruled against her in the Surfabout, which cost her a place in the final.
Said Linda: "I'd like to make my living out of surfing professionally, if I could win one once in a while."
After only two winters in Hawaii she has placed in the and Hang Ten, and a big win seems certain to come her way soon.
On her first trip to Australia Linda was partic­ularly impressed with Queensland barrels and particularly unimpressed with Australian male attitudes to women surfers.
"It seems to be a part of life here," she said. "Women are meant to be the chickens".

Originally from Florida, Elaine Davis, 26, has made a successful transition to the North Shore juice.
"I built up to the North Shore by surfing in town a lot first," she said.
"Then I started surfing Rocky Point and Velzyland, and gradually worked my way into bigger waves."
Elaine is a goofy foot but she limits her appear­ances at Pipeline to relatively un-crowded days.
"I've probably only surfed there a dozen times.
So many peopie get hurt there, you've really gotta be confident about taking off."
Elaine does most of her surfing with boyfriend Hawaiian surfer Wayne
Inouye, but she believes that the best female surfers are more pleasing to watch than the males.
"Chicks like Margo and Lynn have a nicer style to watch than most men."
When she returns to Hawaii Elaine plans to seek sponsorship to go to Brazil for the next women's contest.
"It should be easier for women to get sponsors," she said.
"A lot of products look good on a girl."

Sponsorship, a professionals asso­ciation for women, independent wo­men's contests, "the top women look better than the men" ... in the States women's surfing is on the move.

Here it is just coming out of a long stagnation.
Current Australian women's champ Jill Sanotti says it's partly the girls who are to blame: "A lot of girls come up to me and say, 'Gee, I wish I could surf.
I just ask them why they don't, and most of them say they're scared the guys will laugh at them.
They should just do ii anyway."
Jill, along with Victorian veteran Gail Couper, Queenslander Kym McKenzie, NSW's Vicki Burke and a few others are paving the way.
But there's long way to go before they reach the standard of their sisters over the sea.

Margo on a tiddler

Linda Davoli & Elaine Davis

Boyer in full flight

Page 15

Michael Ho and Dick van Straalen Round-tail.

Page 23

Peter Crawford and Crozier Flextail Slab.

Betty Grable
Publicity shot for the 1943 film Sweet Rosie O’Grady by Frank Powolny.
This iconic image decorated the walls of thousands of serving American servicemen in World War 2.

Famous Pictures


Number 81,
June 1977.


Geoff Cater (2019) : Phil Jarratt : Women Surfers, 1977.