Pauline Menczer, Hawai

An Aussie underdog story like no other – think Rocky meets Puberty Blues – as Pauline Menczer overcomes sexism, homophobia and rheumatoid arthritis to become World Surfing Champion.

Surf culture in the 80s and 90s was exceedingly toxic — particularly for women. Ignored by sponsors, underpaid (if paid at all), underestimated and insulted, female surfers had to overcome countless hurdles to make it on the professional surfing circuit.

Surf Like A Woman is Pauline Menczer’s inspirational story of a true underdog battler whose fearlessness and grit broke the door of surfing’s boys’ club for the next generation of women.

Pauline grew up and developed a love for surfing at Bondi Beach. Four decades later, she is still the only surfer from Bondi to win a World Title and has been memorialised by a mural on the beach’s promenade. Waverley Council is also set to erect a bronze statue in her honour at South Bondi.

Pauline Menczer, Bondi

Despite her incredible World Title win in 1993, Pauline never received any prize money – all funds went to the men’s champion. Even in other tournaments when she placed or won, men got the bulk of the prize money; Pauline and her fellow female surfers had to scrape by with minimal income to cover everything from travel around the world to compete and their equipment to food and doctor’s appointments, often barely breaking even.

Surf Like A Woman chronicles the highs and lows of her surfing journey, including her battle with debilitating rheumatoid arthritis and her need to hide her same-sex relationship while on tour for fear of judges discriminating against her in competitions.

Watch our Interview with Pauline

Women’s sport continues to skyrocket and dominate the headlines. Australian Molly Picklum recently achieved a perfect score at Hawaii’s Pipe Pro, making history as the first woman ever to do so. Notably, women were not even permitted to surf at Pipeline until 2020.

Following the event, Picklum stated she is ‘inspired by the women before [her] time who charged and pushed the limits’. Pauline Menczer is undoubtedly one such trailblazer, and following her pro surfing career, she continues to fight sexism and misogyny in the sport, as well as raising awareness for sportswomen like herself who suffer from autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. She recently starred in the documentary Girls Can’t Surf alongside other surfing legends, including Jodie Cooper, Stephanie Gilmore and Layne Beachley, as they challenged the male-dominated nature of surfing culture.

Surf Like A Woman is both the sports memoir of a surfing icon and a rousing feminist manifesto celebrating the resilience, strength and power of women in sport.