It's been called one of the most dangerous surf competitions in the world, and for the first time it will be a co-ed contest.
After mounting pressure to include women as well as a lingering meeting by the California Coastal Commission to consider an appeal by the Committee for Equity in Women’s Surfing, Titans of Mavericks competition organizers announced Thursday it will include six women in an inaugural women's division for the first time. [[84308282, C]]
This is a notable moment in the history of the Titans of Mavericks competition, which has never named a female winner.
It was a sizable hurdle to jump for female big-wave surfers, as the all-male panel had not previously invited a woman to be an official competitor in its 17-year history.
There have been women chosen as alternates in past years, starting with big-wave surfer Savannah Shaughnessy in the prior season.
The decision comes after amendments to Titans of Mavericks' beach permit that the event be more inclusive of women in the future.
Harbor Commissioner Sabrina Brennan has made women's inclusion in the competition one of the major issues in her re-election and says she has been an advocate for change throughout her term.
In an interview with NBC Bay Area, the organizers said the decision for a women's heat is good timing and that there are now enough women in the sport to make a separate division possible.
"It's a permit that we've never been required to get before — all of a sudden we have a permitting agency so it's something we've been working on for years," Titan of Mavericks founder Jeff Clark said. "Finally there's enough women to put together a women's heat."
Prior to the announcement, competition organizers made a multi-year beach permit stating that it would work to identify female athletes who have surfed Mavericks and evaluate them under the same qualifications all potential Titans must meet before competing.
In its inaugural year, the six women will compete within the division for a prize purse of $30,000.
The winner of the surfing contest in the previous year took home $120,000.
The opening ceremony will be held Friday at 12 p.m. with events happening between November 1 and March 31, 2016. [[397792211, C]]