What an inspiration for all! Little girl surfing before school, paddling around and CHOMP! There goes a huge shark with her arm. Long recovery complete with depression and sadness finally emerging at the other end as a HUGE inspiration for millions of people (including me!).
North shore Kauai, February 2008. I rented a house for a month a block from the beach. Pictures (below) show waves from afar. Yup, just waves when looking at them from this distance but when you strap on your leash to get out there, it takes almost 25 minutes. You paddle and paddle and paddle, passing green turtles sometimes so numerous you consider running from shell to shell on their backs instead of paddling. You can get so close to them you can smell their breath. It stinks.
When you get to those "just waves," you realize they aint "just waves," they are demons, each with their own destructive potential, gunning for you, wanting to destroy you and anything near you. They are a force to be reconed with, to be feared and respected. You gotta keep the mountain peaks lined up so that you can stay in the safe zone, realizing all the while that mother nature recognizes NOT safe zones- shes gonna throw in a rogue set every half hour or so. Keep an eye out for them. If you see everyone paddling like hell toward the horizon, dont think, paddle like hell also, for your life.
Ive paddled my ass off there often, scared of dying, to escape a monster staring right at me with angry green eyes. To escape, you have to paddle up hill...
One afternoon of surf like this I looked over and saw Bethany Hamilton about to duck dive under a huge wave. She was to my right as the wave passed. I thought to myself- nahhh, she'll get washed away with just one arm (board had a strap on it her pop drilled into board). When I surfaced I saw that she had done better on her dive than I did with my two strong arms.
Half an hour later I saw a wave coming n looked to my left to be sure that nobody was on it-saw Bethany and thought "she'll never make it" so I paddled, caught the wave, then looked to my left and who did I see? Yup! I did the UNTHINKABLE, dropped in on her! A world famous surfer chick with one arm! What a shit I was!
I saw her pull off the wave because my wake and spray had ruined it for her. I guiltily pulled off also, so nobody really rode that wave. I considered apologizing to her but I decided not to. I saw her on the beach the next day and wanted to apologize to her then also but decided to just "leave her alone."
I'll always remember doing that to her, and I'll always remember her professionalism and poise, durability and athleticism. She didn't yell "hey asshole, thanks a lot for dropping in on me!"
Some people you just have to admire. Who would ever think that a teenage girl could be an inspiration for a gritty old man?
These are the peaks at Hanalei Bay that we use to line up properly (stay alive). They save you from 94% of the destructive power of the waves. Its the last 6% you gotta watch out for. People die here all the time, sometimes just standing on the lava cliffs-huge waves just pluck people off the cliffs or waves will roll down from the mountains on trails and wash people into the sea, never to be seen ever again.
Hi, my name is
David Benjamin and I started swimming in Chappaqua, NY., swam for Badger swim team, Mercersburg Academy, NC State University, then Westport YMCA masters. I got bored of the ol' back and forth of competitive swimming and the high cost of skiing. Surfing took over and I never looked back.