By Patricia B. Dwyer
The Surfing Walk of Fame in Huntington Beach is awarding La Jolla legend Debbie Beacham its Woman of the Year award on Thursday for her work in building women’s professional surfing.
Being one of the first women to compete in the International Professional Surfing world tour in the 1970s, Beacham’s quest for progression didn’t stay in the water.
“It was mostly men thinking about their own path and where they were going to go,” Beacham said. “They weren’t thinking about the women, so I did my best to not let them forget.”
When the women’s tour first began, prize money was limited, their heats were held at times with unfavorable conditions during which bikini contests were often scheduled — keeping everyone’s attention, even the judges’.
Beacham used her time on tour to not only be a top competitor, but also to convince all the men around her that the women’s tour should be of equal quality of that of the men.
“I don’t like when people use the word ‘fight,’ ” Beacham said. “I never fought for anything. I just convinced them that if they wanted the sport to grow, this was how it had to happen.”
By 1982, Beacham had won her first world title and had worked alongside the other women on tour to completely revamp the women’s tour with top sponsors, more contests, and more publicity.
Beacham remains active in the surf community as one of the vice presidents of the international Surfing Association. She also manages the marketing of her husband's construction company, Beacham Construction, one of the oldest construction firms in La Jolla.
Other San Diego inductees into the Surfing Walk of Fame this year include Skip Frye and Rob Machado. The ceremony will be held tomorrow, Thursday August 4th, in Huntington Beach during the Nike US Open.