By Katie Nielsen

HALF MOON BAY (KPIX 5) — Female surfers in California won a big battle for equal pay in the sport last week.

Oftentimes, the prize money is skewed heavily in their male counterparts’ favor.

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Bianca Valenti is a professional World Champion surfer in the World Surf League who lives in San Francisco. She just won an event two months ago in Mexico, and she only received $1,850 in prize money as opposed to the male champion, who won $7,000.

Valenti and other big wave-riding women founded the Committee for Equity In Women’s Surfing to lobby for equal prize money at professional surfing events.

Last week, the World Surf League agreed to the Committee for Equity In Women’s Surfing’s terms.

“We’ve got some amazing women, iconic role models around the world who are breaking barriers from an athletic performance perspective. And rightly so–they deserve to get equal prize money,” said Sophie Goldschmidt, the CEO of World Surf League.

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The California Coastal Commission and the State Land Commission also got involved. They said that if surf competitions like Mavericks Surf want to use the ocean and have beach access, then they can’t discriminate against women. This is now written in their permit.

“If you’re going to use public land, then you need to make it open to everyone,” said Sabrina Brennan, Co-Founder for the Committee for Equity In Women’s Surfing.

This is the kind of logic that Bianca Valenti hopes will lead to changes in other competitive sports which use outdoor resources, such as beach volleyball, skiing, snowboarding and rock climbing.

With more prize money, female surfers said they realize that competition is going to get tough, especially at big name events like Mavericks. But they also said that it’s just another reason to spend more time in the water.

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