Professional Surfer Bethany Hamilton
Professional Surfer Bethany Hamilton (Credit: YouTube Clip - Lieber Films)

Brand Places Man In Online Ad After Dropping Female Surfer

The story of Bethany Hamilton is pretty incredible. The Hawaiian-born Hamilton began surfing competitively at age eight and she had her first sponsorship by the age of 10. When she was 13, however, she was the victim of a horrific shark attack in Kauai as a 14-foot tiger shark completely severed her left arm at the shoulder.

Bethany Hamilton – Screenshot: World Surf League YouTube Video

Incredibly, Hamilton survived the attack and returned to surfing just one month later, winning two NSSA championships in 2004 and 2005. She even wrote an autobiography about the ordeal “Soul Surfer,” (that she wrote when she was 14), which was later made into a feature film by the same name in 2011.

Hamilton maintained a successful career – winning more titles and dozens of top 20 finishes – until last year when she announced she would no longer compete in World Surfing League events due to the organization’s rule allowing ‘trans women’ (a.k.a., men) to compete against women.

At the time, one of Hamilton’s sponsors was Rip Curl, an Australian surfing brand, but they terminated their relationship with her shortly thereafter. While Rip Curl provided no official reason why they parted ways with Hamilton, it is hardly a coincidence that the decision came exactly at the moment that she joined the growing number of female athletes speaking out to protect women’s sports.

Rip Curl Features Male Surfer In Instagram Ad

Not only did Rip Curl dismiss Hamilton, but they also had the gall to replace her with a man, Sasha Lowerson (real name: Ryan Egan), a 44-year-old surfer who competed in men’s surfing before deciding he could probably be more successful by changing his name and surfing against women.

Sasha Lowerson, a male surfer competing against women
Sasha Lowerson, a male surfer competing against women (Credit: Rip Curl – Instagram Ad)

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In the campaign titled, “Meet The Local Heroes of Western Australia,” Lowerson can be seen towering above most of the women in the ad. Rip Curl named him their “ambassador” saying that he was a “West Australian waterwoman who loves the freedom found in surfing, disconnecting from the mainstream, and the feeling of dancing on constantly changing waves.”

Yeah, no. He’s not a woman, water or otherwise. But we’re sure he likes to compete against smaller opponents who are not as tall or strong. He never finished above 11th place in men’s competitions, but lo and behold at the West Oz Longboard and Logger State Championships in 2022, he won multiple titles in the women’s division.

Imagine that.

Fierce Backlash And Boycotts Aimed At Rip Curl

Of course, we have now reached a point where people are fighting back against this insanity, and Rip Curl faced it in spades.

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It’s not all that difficult to look at those two pictures and reach the logical (and biological) conclusion that Hamilton is a woman and Lowerson is decidedly NOT one.

Women’s sports champion Riley Gaines also weighed in (as we all knew she would).

Even Hamilton herself weighed in on X, reiterating her stance against men in women’s sports and refusing to back down.

Yep, it doesn’t get much simpler than that.

The good news is that fighting back WORKS. Recently, Rip Curl removed the ad under intense pressure. That’s great progress but the company also needs to apologize to Hamilton and never promote men in women’s sports again.

Keep the pressure on. Until the madness stops, never to return.

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