Philippa Anderson, younger sister of the super-steezy freesurfer Craig, has launched an Indiegogo campaign to fund her surf career ambition of competing against the world’s best women on the WSL Women’s World Championship Tour (WCT). She currently works three jobs (last year it was four!), including bar work and surf coaching, to fund herself but believes she needs to be able to concentrate solely on surfing to realise her WCT dream.
A promising junior who grew up in South Africa, Philippa Anderson, who now lives in Australia, was beating boys in the U-12 division when she was just nine. She got sponsored by Rip Curl at 14, had a successful Pro Junior career, then graduated to the World Qualifying Series (WQS), where she narrowly missed a place on the WCT in 2012.
She then got dropped by her main sponsor and has been struggling for confidence, though more crucially finances on the WQS since. But she’s had some good results this year including reaching the semi final of the Los Cabos Open in Mexico, beating WCT surfers Malia Manuel and Coco Ho along the way.
WQS events take place all over the world so surfers are required to funds trips to Europe, North and South America, Australia and even further afield spots such as China. And if you don’t have big sponsors or rich parents this can be tricky. Plus only five WQS surfers will make it onto the WCT each year.
To make things more complicated WQS surfers get more points if they get a wild card spot at WCT such as the Roxy Pro. But since losing her main sponsor this has been more tricky for Philippa Anderson, as the system favours those with sponsors. She told Still Stoked:
“I was very fortunate to get entry into the Trials at the Roxy Pro for 4 years through my sponsorship, where I managed to win the trials and compete against the best female surfers in the world.
Since not having a main sponsor I can definitely see the support you get from that company and you realise how much harder it is to get into those events. Companies want their best surfers to get a chance and if you not with a company, high up or have some inside links, you don’t get an opportunity.”
Things are also made harder when WCT surfers, such as Sally Fitzgibbons and Courtney Conlogue, enter WQS events for the extra practice, though Philippa Anderson also enjoys the challenge of that. She told Still Stoked:
“It makes it harder yes, definitely, as if you draw an experienced CT girl in the early rounds you have such a challenging heat, and could more easily be knocked, scoring only a small amount of valuable QS points for that event.
But to be the best you have to beat the best. It’s good surfing against the top girls, it pushes me, and drives me to surf better, especially when you draw a QS heat with smart competitors like Courtney, Sally and Carissa.”
Most worryingly of all. She thinks the surf industry is spending less on up-and-coming athletes and more on those at the top, which could trap a whole generation of talent from coming through, especially those who don’t have a big social media clout, which in itself is often related to how many pictures they post of themselves in bikinis.
She told Still Stoked:
“I think the industry as a whole is spending less budget on up-and-coming athletes, and saving the valuable funds to support the very top athletes. Smaller amounts are being spent on the up-and-coming junior surfers, gambling on who could be the next big thing.
The gap in the support is for those of us who are on the cusp of qualifying, those who have been on the QS for a few years, and not quite made it on to the World Tour. It doesn’t mean we aren’t capable, but we are just not getting the financial support to survive, and it takes its toll. I had 4 jobs last year, this year I could only handle 3.”