Celebrating the achievements of Pauline Menczer was well overdue when, on Tuesday evening, she became the 40th inductee into the Hall of Fame at the Australian Surfing Awards on the Gold Coast.
Having grown up in Sydney, Pauline started surfing at Bondi at a young age, moving to Byron at 22.
In 1993 she became the World Pro Champion and has won 28 major tournaments including three at Bells Beach.
‘Bell’s Beach has really good waves and you can really show what you can do there,’ said Pauline.
But this success didn’t come without a huge amount of dedication, hard work and training along with the commitment of her coach Steve Foreman.
’Twenty years on, the world tour back then had its challenges,’ she said ruefully.
‘Financially it was difficult and women weren’t treated equally at all! The guys would always get put out in the better surf conditions and their prize money was about five times more than the women would get for the same competitions.’
Not interested in fitting into the classic bikini magazine stereotype that was required by major sponsors, from a young age Pauline found ways to support herself as she strove to achieve her dream.
‘When I first started surfing I collected cans on Bondi Beach to make some money. Then at about 14 I sold cakes and toffees at the school and they would let us have mufti days (free dress) at school and I raised money that way.’
When Pauline was on tour she would take a tent to sleep in friends’ gardens and buy things to sell in the countries she was visiting as a way to fund her trip.
‘I would stay with friends and they would help me sell stuff, so that was how I raised the money.
‘It was all the little guys that were helping me and without that family of people helping me, without that I wouldn’t have been able to do it. That’s why I always want to help the little guys.’
Pauline emphasises what ‘awesome inspiring people’ she met on her journeys around the world.
‘I feel so lucky and grateful to have been able to have a career doing something I absolutely love – being so close to nature and experiencing all the beauty and magic our oceans have to offer.’
Article courtesy of the Echo