A Pioneer of Women’s Surfing and the first ever ISA Women’s World Surfing Champion, Phyllis O’Donell of Australia, has been inducted into the Surfing Walk of Fame. O’Donell’s induction was introduced by International Surfing Association [ISA] President, Fernando Aguerre, during the 2014 Vans US Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach, California.
ISA President Fernando Aguerre with the first ever ISA Women’s Surfing World Champion (1964) Phyllis O’Donell, who was inducted on Thursday into the Surfing Walk of Fame as “Woman Of The Year” in Huntington Beach, California.
O’Donell made history in 1964 by becoming the first ever ISA Women’s Surfing World Champion when she won the inaugural World Championship title at Manly Beach in Sydney, Australia at the age of 27. O’Donell went on to win the Australian national women’s titles in 1964 and 1965.
O’Donell’s World Championship victory was a sign of recognition and progress for female surfers and her win paved the way for countless women and girls to follow in her footsteps.
Larry Bertlemann (left) and Randy Rarick (right) were inducted as “Surf Champion” and “Surf Pioneer” respectively into the Surfing Walk of Fame. Rarick represented Team Hawaii at the 1970 ISA World Surfing Championship in Bells Beach, Australia, and Bertlemann also represented Hawaii in 1972 at the ISA World Surfing Championship in San Diego, USA. Photos: Dan Merkel and Surfing Walk of Fame
Of the 17 female surfers currently competing on the 2014 ASP Women’s World Tour, all of them have competed in ISA World Championships, and seven of them are former ISA Gold Medalists.
The annual induction ceremony, now in its 21st year, was set up to honor those individuals who have made significant contributions to the sport and culture of Surfing. The area surrounding the ceremony site is covered with more than 130 granite stones representing the champions, heroes and legends of the sport.
Speaking about her induction, Phyllis O’Donell, said:
“I am truly honored to be the first ISA Women’s World Champion and to be inducted into the Surfing Walk of Fame. It’s pleasing to know that my name will sit alongside other greats who have contributed so much to the sport. Women’s Surfing has grown so much over recent years and I’m happy that I’ve been able to contribute to that growth. I hope my achievements, and the achievements of female surfers at every level, will continue to inspire young girls around the world.”
ISA President, Fernando Aguerre, said:
“I am really stoked and humbled to be part of Phyllis O’Donell’s induction into the Surfing Walk of Fame. Phyllis has contributed so much to our sport and as the first ever ISA Women’s World Champion she is a true pioneer of Women’s Surfing.
“We have seen huge development in Women’s Surfing in recent years and we must continue to encourage young girls to push the boundaries and get on surfboards from an early age. We have long promoted Surfing amongst women and girls with women’s divisions in every ISA World Championship and we are very proud that 40% of the ISA Executive Committee Members are female.”
The International Surfing Association (ISA), founded in 1964, is recognized by the International Olympic Committee as the World Governing Authority for Surfing. The ISA governs and defines Surfing as Shortboard, Longboard & Bodyboarding, StandUp Paddle (SUP) Racing and Surfing, Bodysurfing, Wakesurfing, and all other wave riding activities on any type of waves, and on flat water using wave riding equipment. The ISA crowned its first Men’s and Women’s World Champions in 1964. It crowned the first Big Wave World Champion in 1965; World Junior Champion in 1980; World Kneeboard Champions in 1982; World Longboard Surfing and World Bodyboard Champions in 1988; World Tandem Surfing Champions in 2006; World Masters Champions in 2007; and World StandUp Paddle (SUP, both surfing and racing) and Paddleboard Champions in 2012.
ISA membership includes the surfing National Governing Bodies of 100 countries on five continents. Its headquarters are located in La Jolla, California. It is presided over by Fernando Aguerre (Argentina), first elected President in 1994 in Rio de Janeiro. The ISA’s four Vice-Presidents are Karín Sierralta (PER), Kirsty Coventry (ZIM), Casper Steinfath (DEN) and Barbara Kendall (NZL).