How Bianca Valenti Crowdsourced Equal Prize Money at Puerto — and Then Won It

On Monday, while a pumping south swell hit the western coast of the Americas, big-wave chargers Billy Kemper and Bianca Valenti took home the wins at the 2019 Puerto Escondido Cup. The event (which was taken off the WSL’s BWWT a few years ago) is organized by the Surf Open League and invites chargers of the highest caliber to tackle, quite frankly, the scariest beachbreak in the world for money.

While the event didn’t see the frighteningly ginormous fare you’d expect to see in a big-wave event (a la the Pe’ahi Challenge), there were still plenty of throaty and shifty tubes to be had. While Billy Kemper rode his way to a first-place finish (on what looked like a regular step-up) on the men’s side of the draw, California charger and defending Puerto Escondido Cup champ Bianca Valenti took home the win on the women’s side. And, in more ways than one, Valenti’s win was one well-deserved.

Before the event, when Valenti heard the news that she would be invited to defend her title, she noticed there was a disparity between the women’s prize money and the men’s (the men’s winner was to receive $7,000 and the women’s winner only $2,500).

Over the past few years, Valenti and the Committee for Equity in Women’s Surfing (which she helped establish) have been tirelessly advocating for equal pay for men and women in competitive surfing – and likely had a huge impact on the WSL’s decision to enact equal pay across the board last year. So after seeing the prize purse for the 2019 Puerto Escondido Cup, she knew she had to do something.

A couple weeks ago, Valenti set up a GoFundMe campaign to raise funds to even out the prize money for this year’s contest. The initial goal was to raise $9,000, and in about two days time, she had crowdfunded that plus a few extra thousand bucks – a sign that there are more than a few surf fans wanting to see equal pay implemented around the world, and across all competitive surf events.

On Tuesday, Valenti took to Instagram to celebrate her win and her fight for equal pay:

If you’d like a quick recap of Valenti’s (and Kemper’s) performance at the 2019 Puerto Escondido Cup, check out the Surf Open League videos below.

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