Windsurfing is a male dominated sport and the women are often only an add-on for events. Daida and Iballa Moreno want to make a difference and managed to increase the prize pot for the 2018 Gran Canaria Wind & Waves Festival by 15K, meaning equal prize money for men and women. Women windsurfers will receive the same amount of money as their male counterparts for the first time, 35.000 €.

We caught up with Daida Moreno to speak about this big news and about the this year’s event.

Daida Moreno with her trophies at home – Pic: John Carter/PWA

Continentseven: It’s your 7th year organizing the Gran Canaria Wind & Waves Festival. Additionally the Gran Canaria windsurfing World Cup is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. Is that something special for you?

Daida Moreno: My team and I always work hard to make this event more and more special. We integrate music and social activities with windsurfing in the higher level of the world. We can also see how the junior fleet grows each year. They are the future of the sport. The youngest people have the chance to make their first competition experiences, and they can see and hang out with the best riders of the world, be judged by PWA judges and get to know better how to compete. It’s a unique moment and we are really proud to be part of it. This year as it is also the 30th anniversary of the event, we will celebrate it as the biggest windsurfing event ever in Gran Canaria, with a special show in the closing ceremony.

But there is another big highlight we should speak about. Equal prize money for men and women.

Yes. The big highlight of this year is that for the very first time ever in windsurfing, we are proud to announce EQUAL prize money for men and women in the waves discipline. We finally found the money of 20.000 € to equal  the prize money for men and women. Iballa and I, as women in windsurfing have been dreaming about this moment for the last 21 years. Since we took over the organization of this event, we have been working and waiting for this moment until this year. Thanks to the sponsors, we could close this massive difference in the prize money. Most important, the authorities of Gran Canaria are working on an special law to have equal prize money in all sports.
We run the same risk, train really hard and even worse, with less salaries and opportunities. Most of the women have to work to be able to do the world cup tour to pay their trips. With equal prize money we would like to help all women of the world cup to feel for their very first time equal with men, and to have the same chances to earn same money and have some savings for the rest of the year. We also hope the industry can help more women in windsurfing besides of providing them with the best gear to be the best version of themselves in the water, be able to earn at least a salary to live and invest in windsurfing: traveling (training, competitions), food, accommodation, health, ….

What does it mean for the sport of windsurfing to have equal prize money for men and women for the first time?

Nowadays, we hope to be a good example for other organizers and be able to change the idea of other people who think women deserve less than men.
Our idea is that the Gran Canaria Wind and Waves festival becomes a reference in the world of sports worldwide. It’s great advertising for the world of windsurfing in general. There is still a lot of work to do though. Not only equal prize money is the solution here in Gran Canaria, as I explained before there is a whole movement that needs to be changed from salaries in sponsorships to free gear or equal opportunities to became better windsurfers. We hope that windsurfing becomes a sample to other sports worldwide that are suffering the same injustices.

“For me, to have equal prize money in this event, in “our” event is a dream come true.”

What does it mean to you, as a professional women athlete, to have equal prize money for men and women for the first time?

Lots of people think that women, as they cannot sail as powerful as men, should not get the same prize money. Of course women have physical restriction compared to men, but when competing on a higher level they sail better than many men. Pozo Izquierdo is a well known place for its strong wind, it’s a really complicated place to sail, but we still see strong wave moves like Stalled Forwards, Back loops, Push loop Table tops, Table top Forwards and strong wave riding like wave 360s, Takas, Backside 360 and strong hits of the lips. Over the last 20 years I have seen a strong improvement in women in windsurfing, and we will continue working in this improvement.
For me, to have equal prize money in this event, in “our” event is a dream come true. Thanks to the sponsors that made it possible.

What was the feedback about that news from the ladies, the men and the PWA?

The women are obviously really glad and proud about this big news. Talking to Rich Page (PWA tour manager) in Morocco was good too, he understood our goal, and it’s also really important to the sport of windsurfing. Regarding men, for now all I hear it’s been positive. This is a decision and a goal we had for many years, and their prize money had not been touched. All we had done is do the right thing, equal prize money for equal future opportunities.

Some might ask, why didn’t you add another discipline instead of increasing the prize money?

Our club is working year after year to increase our chances to have a bigger event. Finally this year we are bigger by equal prize money with extra budget, but sadly to add an extra discipline is much more expensive than 20k. Our goal for the next one or two years is to have a grand slam and in three to four years to have a super grand slam in Gran Canaria.

Daida & Iballa Moreno collected more than 25 windsurfing world champion titles together – Pic: John Carter/PWA

Let’s talk about the event. What are your goals with the event itself this year?

As we are celebrating 30th anniversary, this year with equal prize money and extra activities in the tent we hope to have more tourism and be able to bring Gran Canaria and Pozo Izquierdo around the world through live stream and world wide news like on continentseven. The international press in our event is really important to be able to show our sponsors the importance of continued investment into windsurfing.
We have a day and night program for the event. We are also working with plastic recycle awareness, recollect non-perishable food for different associations, beach cleaning, activities for kids and of course youth competition.

How many people are working in the background to organize the event and for how many weeks do you work to set up the event?

We are a team of 6 people working in our none profit sport club since October of last year. Everyone has a different role and every year we can see inside improvements that make live easier to organizer such a big event. During the event dates, we are a total of 40 people working day and night.

What’s the hardest part in organizing such a big windsurfing event on the island of Gran Canaria in Pozo Izquierdo.

Our hardest challenge is to organize a bigger event with the same budget. This year there was an increase on 15k eur in the total budget together with some hotel sponsoring (meaning saving money) we could work the equal prize money. Internally there are lots of bills to pay and lots of negotiations and months of brainstorm and work. To have also 40 people at your expense it’s not easy either, this is only possible having such a great team in our Club MorenoTwins.

How important is it for you and Iballa personally to win the event after so many victories and titles on tour?

For me to win the event this year would be really amazing. The level of the girls is becoming higher which is amazing to finally see it. There are always small details like one handed moves or more complicated moves that can make the difference. Let’s just hope the judges will see this, too. I had a good winter with lots of training inside and outside the water. I still don’t feel as fit as before the cancer, but this can also be because I am 40 years old ;-).

Daida Moreno flying over Pozo Izquierdo – Pic: John Carter/PWA

Will you once be on a status you say winning and losing doesn’t matter anymore, we just do it for the joy and we want to motivate younger riders to try the same and follow the same dreams.

If you are competing and working, to be in the top three is always a good and a perfect goal. If I put all my time and energy to be the best there is no room to say that winning and loosing doesn’t matter anymore. The difference is that I always train hard and try to improve my sailing for the joy of the sport, not because of the competitions. This I think will be the best message for the younger riders, to enjoy sailing to follow their dreams.

We saw some great videos from you in the past months. You slide through Takas and you land all the big jumps, even one handed. How do you manage to improve your level year after year besides setting up your physiotherapy business parallel to your windsurfing career?

Over the last three years I had been combining my trainings with physiotherapy (plus four years before at the university). Physiotherapy is also my other passion in life. I really like helping bringing back health to people with skeletal muscle problems. Dividing your days in two has not been easy, but I have found a great formula to fill my days with lots of passion and imagination. Physiotherapy and windsurfing, both with something in common: you cannot stop learning.

What are your wishes for the 2018 event?

My best wishes for this year are to not have any injuries (like last year), have a great event in Pozo with wind and waves and lots of people following the action.