Organizers for the U.S. Open of Surfing announced Monday that this year's top female surfer will take home a prize of $20,000, doubling the amount given to the women's champion last year.
However, the purse remains much smaller than that given to the top male surfer, who will earn $100,000 for the second year in a row.
The Huntington Beach surfing competition made headlines last year when it offered a world-record six-figure sum to the men's champion. Some, though, raised their eyebrows over the discrepancy at the top prizes; the highest-scoring woman was originally set to win $4,500 before organizers pushed the amount to $10,000.
James Leitz, the senior vice president and director of action sports for the marketing firm IMG, said the controversy inspired his group to seek a higher women's prize this year. IMG, which produces the U.S. Open, and Nike, which sponsors it, successfully lobbied the Assn. of Surfing Professionals to increase the purse, he said.