Culture / Film

‘Girls Can’t Surf’ is sharing the untold story of the trailblazing female surfing icons who took on a male-dominated world

Girls Can't Surf

In 2021 and living in a country driven by its connection to the ocean; it's difficult for many of us to imagine a time when women's surfing was virtually non-existent. For many of the sport's now biggest female names, this was once a very harsh reality; one they fought hard to dismantle. A new documentary, featuring Australia's very own Layne Beachley and Pauline Menczer, is here to share the untold story of surfing's true renegades, in Girls Can't Surf.

Focusing in on the band of rebellious female surfers from Australia and beyond; Girls Can't Surf explores how these women took on the male-dominated professional surfing world of the 1980s despite all the odds being against them. The circus of of fluoro colours, peroxide hair and radical male egos were just some of the challenges they faced. Regardless of their talent, the female surfers we now consider heroes were consistently treated as show ponies by their male counterparts, the media and sponsors. 

Watch the full trailer for Girls Can't Surf below.

The documentary, directed by award-wining director Chris Nelius, highlights how at a time when the sport of surfing was beginning to turn pro, any opportunity to build female interest was dismantled. Forced to wear impractical and demeaning gear and compete for pitiful prizes that were often half of what their male counterparts would receive, it was impossible for surfing to be seen as a viable career option for women. 25 years later however, the trailblazing athletes featured in the documentary are finally starting to see the push for change they implemented almost three decades ago.

Featuring incredible archival footage and moving interviews with surfing icons Jodie Cooper, Frieda Zamba, Pauline Menczer, Lisa Andersen, Pam Burridge, Wendy Botha, Layne Beachley and more, Girls Can't Surf  is a wild ride of clashing personalities, sexism, adventure and heartbreak. A reminder of how far we have come, and how far equality in the surfing industry still has to go.

Girls Can't Surf  is in cinemas from March 11.

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Image: Instagram