girl ... ripping; I am Woman
Just re-read Beth Mann's most recent post and so- I tip my hat to her, here's why:
Beginner level surfing on a longboard is a safe thrill for anyone to try, riding on top of a log on a soft mushy slow breaking wave, the kind of fun 7 million tourists, and some of you, have at Waikiki every year. Literally anyone can do it. Hawaiian beachboys have taught the seriously handicapped and even some blind individuals the thrill of longboard surfing.
Shortboard surfing is something else altogether, literally another sport, by definition, by competitive tour, and, ouch, by age ... it is the sport of the young. It is, very frankly, impossible to learn unless you start as a child or at least a teen-ager, but, to be a pro, teen-age is probably too late, that's how hard it is to ride a short board and ride it well.
Essentially it is impossible to become a shortboard surfer if you start this journey as an adult (or so-called adult, haha).
Unless you are part of the 1% of less than 1% of people in the world who will do the impossible, as home sapiens always do.
Unless your name is Beth Mann.
Yes, OSer Beth Mann has done the impossible, she has become, bypassing the halcyon days spectacularly, a surfer- a real surfer, a shortboarder.
Advanced level surfing has many dangers. One thing is certain though and that is if you aren't out there you will never know them intimately. But, Beth does now. She has faced down a couple lions, lost her spear in the process. If you survive it this is good. This makes you quit or be much cooler and calmer next time, plan better, watch out! Or, you could get hospitalized, or worse.
Or, you could escape banged up but stronger, wiser.
Did I mention Beth Mann is a woman? Did I need to?
She is. So that makes her more into the 1%er world where Earth's innovators traditionally reside than even the few males who learn to surf as adults, itself, again, a minuscule number.
Don't think women can't handle big surf though. That's actually what this story is about: Women and Big Waves. Beth had her recent adventure (every day is an adventure when you surf- think about it ... ) so here are a couple more from the photography of blue aqua-marine memories. Read on and remember the tradition of Hypatia and the others before and after her, including our dearest dearheart Beth.
We leave New Jersey.
E Komo Mai, welcome, to Polynesia.
Where everybody surfs, everybody.
I sit, 1/2 mile out over a treacherous reef on a rough, jagged coastline- North Shore of Santosha! Our family home. The surf is once again booming, thunderous, hugely powerful and absolutely beautiful to see and feel.
Not many out today, this is the real deal. A pack of men in phenomenal physical condition, mentally prepared for this after intense dedication.
But, this is Polynesia. Everybody surfs. Everybody swims. Everybody dives.
An absolutely giant wave approaches, you can see it coming from a long ways away and it is coming all right. The pack moves as one in a race to get outside, but, outside already as we approach is a ... swimmer ... my friend's Grandma, actually. Tutu is swimming, strong and smooth, in her Grandma one-piece with a floral bathing cap- plumerias, of course, and goggles.
A 20-foot Bombora comes down on us, Tutu, never changing rythym, backstrokes to eyeball our situation, cleanly spins and quite effortlessly dives beneath the oncoming wall.
Not one surfer was fast enough to make it out, and we are now in the "Impact Zone"- nice. Tethered to our boards and further in than Tutu we cannot dive cleanly, the reef is too sharp and shallow. So, we push our boards away, Breathe Deep, and go down feet-first hoping for the best.
Tutu comes up cleanly, now 30 yards away she expertly glided through using the undertow as her free ride. Now she's waiting, watching to make sure all her cubs, a cut-throat crew of maniac pirates capable of anything, are all OK. We all somehow pop up in one piece, she smiles, turns and swims on.
She'll exit the ocean about a mile away. These are probably her favorite days.
Yeah, everybody surfs in Polynesia.
Even when its BIG.
So, decades, too many, ago, I am out, prime of life, the peak, yes, my photo is me so around that time. And the surf is magical.
We used to call it 20 feet. Now they call the same waves 40 feet.
So, that's how big it was.
And, I had my Rhino Chaser. 8'10" of wood and foam just made for days like this. And, (exact spot shall remain nameless) in that legendary big wave slot where many heros had gone before me, Legends, local and international, here, made their bones here. And it's my turn. Here it comes.
The biggest wave of my life. To this day. Should have been my Opus.
But, here's what happened-
40 feet of Pacific monster approached from 100 yards. I turned, never looked back, tried to get up to 12 knots and stay there. I took off, I dropped down, I bottom turned, I pulled in ... I made it! I kicked out.
Now, I was 22 and for one moment just about full of myself and how the magazines must be getting ready for this, when a voice shot out to me from right nearby in the channel, the voice of the beautiful and Olympian (woman surfer name withheld by my request) saying, "Brah, I thought your eyes were gonna pop out!" :) her smile here.
Deflated, trying not to look devastated, well, I can't remember exactly what I said but it was mumbled, something about my leash being in the way or somesuch embarrassment as I quickly paddled away and back out.
I got a couple more great waves that day, none that big though. But She (name withheld) got many herself, and rode with grace and pride, not with fear, something I tried to do on the rest of my waves.
Understand this, I am no "big-wave" surfer- yet I have ridden far bigger waves than 99% of any surfers on the planet ever will.
It's just the 1%ers, all by themselves, leading the way.
Thanks Beth Mann!
Aloha Kakou Angel