Anali Gomez has become the first surfer to be crowned three-time champion of the World Surf League (WSL) South America.
Gomez, who hails from Punta Hermosa, a district famous for its surf spots, knocked fellow Peruvian, Melanie Giunta, out of the QS 1000 Reef & Paris Women’s Pro in the semifinals on Sunday in San Bartolo, Peru – allowing her to paddle straight on through to the final.
Despite losing the final heat with a score of 12.30 to Hawaiian Bailey Nagy’s 13.35, Gomez secured enough points to earn the title of WSL South American champion, for the third time.
The WSL South American competition is the fifth and final stage of the WSL Women’s Qualifying Series. With her gnarly performance on sunday, Gomez has secured a guarantee participation in the most important WSL stages of next year.
The 29 year old led her Peruvian team to victory in the International Surfing Association’s (ISA) World Surfing Games in May 2014, and individually earned herself an ISA gold medal.
Yet despite her world champion title and shredding skills in the water, Gomez has spoken openly about her race and how it has affected her being sponsored. “La Negra,” as she is nicknamed, says she does not have the right appeal to surfing apparel and sponsors because of her dark skin.
“It was because the brands were sponsoring people who fit what they were looking for as a model. They were looking for ‘gringuitas’ with light eyes” to represent them, said Gomez. “If I’d had blonde hair, light skin and blue eyes, maybe I would’ve had that opportunity, even though I didn’t have the talent.”
Growing up in a poorer part of Punta Hermosa, and remembering her financial difficulties that she battled against to fulfill her dream of becoming a champion surfer, Gomez was prompted to launch “Surf Para Todos.” The non-governmental organization gives classes, run by Gomez, to low-income young surfers who are unable to afford the costs of surf academies.