'Not right': Aussie surfer lifts the lid on equal prize money furore

·Sports Editor
·3-min read
Lucy Small, pictured here calling out the organisers of a Sydney longboard event.
Lucy Small called out the organisers of a Sydney longboard event over the unequal prize money. Image: Instagram

Aussie surfer Lucy Small has lifted the lid on the epic moment she called out the organisers of a Sydney longboard event over the disparity between prize money for male and female competitors.

Small won the 'Curly Maljam' event at North Curl Curl in April before taking aim at organisers in her victory speech.

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In footage that went viral on social media, Small said: “Thank you to the sponsors for the money they’ve put into the event, but I would say it’s a bittersweet victory knowing that our surfing is worth half of the men’s prize money.

“It took the same amount to drive here, flights were the same cost to fly here, accommodation cost the same and our surfing is worth half as much. So maybe we can think about that for next time."

Small received $1500 for winning the event, while the male champion got $4000.

Small has now lifted the lid on the controversy in an exclusive chat for Yahoo Sport Australia's 'Mind Games' series.

The 28-year-old said she first found out she would be receiving less prize money when she asked one of the male competitors how much his entry fee was.

"I just assumed that everything had changed now and we had equal prize money in surfing," she said.

"I went and asked one of the men how much his entry fee was because I thought if they're having unequal prize money then maybe the entry fee would be cheaper for the women.

Lucy Small, pictured here in action at the Longboard Classic Galicia in 2019.
Lucy Small in action at the Longboard Classic Galicia in 2019. (Photo by Laurent Masurel/WSL via Getty Images)

"He told me it was the same as what I'd paid.

"When I found out I was so mad because we're putting in just as much as anybody else, if not more."

Small said she couldn't resist the opportunity to call out the shocking disparity when asked if she wanted to give a victory speech.

"It just crossed my mind 'you are going to regret this'," she said.

After calling out the organisers, Small said there was a mixed reaction in the crowd.

"There was some booing, but there was a lot like 'Oh my God she went there' kind of thing," she said.

"I think on reflection that kind of indicates that they know this is not right.

"I was just annoyed at the situation on that day and I didn't think about anything that might follow."

Lucy Small's epic speech sparks changes in surfing

Small said she had no idea her speech would cause such a media frenzy, with calls coming thick and fast for interviews.

"I woke up the next morning and my Instagram was exploding," she revealed.

"I was in disbelief and just thinking 'what is going on?"

Small said it wasn't her intention to humiliate the event organisers personally, but simply spark a discussion around gender equality in the sport and hopefully bring about some change.

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And she did exactly that.

"The head of Surfing NSW contacted me and said they had spoken with Surfing Australia to write into the rule book that any events affiliated with any of the governing bodies must have equal prize money," she said.

"Looking back at it I feel like it's just the beginning of something.

"This is an opportunity for me to create change that I really care about.

"If you can create change - not only for yourself but for your community - then that's an opportunity that you should always grab."

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