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Silvana Free. You want to be her sponsor? Photos: ASP/Kirstin

Silvana Free. You want to be her sponsor? Photos: ASP/Kirstin


The Inertia

Brazil native, Silvana Lima, is ready to take on the World Tour again. After suffering from a severe knee injury in early 2012, Silvana took the rest of the season off to rehabilitate. Although she received the injury wildcard in 2013, she failed to requalify. Why? Not because of poor results, but because of not enough results. With no stickers on her board, Silvana paid all her own tour costs, and she couldn’t make it to enough stops.

So here’s the real news: Silvana has a new sponsor: you. Silvana has started a movement called “Silvana Free,” and rather than seeking traditional sponsors, she’s asking surf fans to help her take on the world’s best. Silvana is hoping to raise over $115,000 in funds to support her tour bid.

The Silvana Free website announces, “Silvana Free is a wake up call: surf is about nature. Beaches are not catwalks and athletes are not fashion models.”

Many professional female surfers rely on apparel sponsors as their main financial support. It’s no secret that the “sex appeal” debate has been in full force the past few years, and many of the world’s best moonlight as bikini models. Everyone has a different opinion about this, however, no matter what side you’re on, it’s easy to see why this relationship is a win-win. As a pro surfer, you might negotiate a better contract, and as an apparel brand, it’s additional advertising. Yet on the other hand, where does that leave athletes like Silvana?

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It’s easy to blame the surf companies: they should sponsor female athletes the way they sponsor male athletes. But at the end of the day, they’re simply trying to run a business, and women’s apparel is a completely different market than men’s. Surfers are advertisement, and unfortunately, the seventeen-year-old girls buying surf t-shirts have no idea who is ranked number two in the world. To them, a successful advertisement is a smiling blond in a bikini.

Silvana Free brings an important, innovative idea into the mix. As an athlete, she doesn’t model, or want to model, so maybe a relationship with an apparel company just isn’t the best solution. Maybe there are still other corporate sponsors out there who would be a better fit, but in the mean time, who should pay the bills? Who benefits from Silvana’s progressive style being on tour? The answer is us.

Dedicated surf fans of the men and women’s tour alike are the ones that watch the free webcasts into the night. We’re the ones who look at the photo galleries at work, and watch surf videos instead of Breaking Bad. We are the ones who get the entertainment out of the high performance, and therefore, maybe it’s our job to chip in to ensure that innovative individuals like Silvana get their chance to shine.

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Check out www.silvanafree.com for more information. The website accepts airline miles and lodging donations as well. For additional questions: talktome@silvanafree.com

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