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First womens champ Phyllis O'Donnell takes a look back


Surf History

First Female Champ Phyllis O'Donnell Takes a Look Back

Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 3 August, 2006 : - - The sport of women's professional surfing flows with power and grace.  Fame and money are there for the taking if you can rise to the top. "The girls, especially on the pro circuit, they are absolutely fantastic," said Phyllis O'Donnell.

O'Donnell, 69, never envisioned her sport would evolve to what it's become, especially back in 1964.  Back then, she was 27 and sold on surfing. That year she claimed the title of world's best woman surfer.  It was the first world championship ever held in women's surfing.  "My prize money was $250," she said.  "I won a surfboard which I sold and numerous packets of cigarettes because they were the sponsors."

O'Donnell was here last week with other female legends who surfed the unknown waters of fledgling sport.  Nancy Emerson's trying to keep their legacy alive. "There are people that came before and paved the way for the Lisa Anderson and the Layne Beachley," Emerson said.  "There is a tremendous amount of history in women's surfing."

When O'Donnell dove into the sport, it was dominated by men.  They didn't like her back then but they love her today. O'Donnell stopped surfing more than 20 years ago.  Last week she caught one more wave for old time's sake. "I can still get up there, but as for turning, cutting back, forget all of that," she said with a laugh.

O'Donnell still follows the sport.  She can rattle off the top names in women's surfing.  But none of them will ever do what she did - win the first title. "I look at these pictures and I say, 'Did I ever do that?'  Apparently I did," she said.

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Jim Mendoza
Source: KGMB9 Hawaii

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