Bethany Hamilton is a damn legend. Her extraordinary story could easily serve as the basis for some uplifting piece of fiction about perseverance and determination. Interestingly enough, it’s not fiction. It’s her life. And you would think that recently giving birth and losing an arm to a shark would slow this girl down, right? Nope. Not a chance, she’d contend. Recently, Bethany towed into Pe’ahi at six months into her pregnancy, showing us all that ain’t slowing down in the slightest. Today, this new momma received wonderful news that she scored a spot into the 2016 Fiji Women’s Pro.
“I am so excited to have the opportunity to be competing in the women’s event at Cloudbreak,” said Hamilton. “I’ve been dreaming of surfing and competing there for years and I think the wave will suit my surfing! Seeing all the swell headed to Fiji has me pumped up! I know I’ll have to surf strong and be heat smart to do well, I believe I can!”
Bethany Hamilton with Baby Tobias
Bethany Hamilton with husband Adam and baby Tobias.
Surf strong is right, Bethany. Fiji is utterly gigantic right now. Barrels so large you could fit Kanye West’s entire ego inside. Guys like Mark Healey, Damien Hobgood, and Dane Gudauskas, to name a few, have been scoring all-time Cloudbreak in conditions that are almost identical to the historical June 2012 “Thundercloud” swell. But it hasn’t all been sunshine and rainbows on that little heart-shaped island. In fact, Aaron Gold nearly drowned the other day after suffering a horrific wipeout and a subsequent two-wave hold down. Fijian Uri Korop and Hawaiian Mark Healey found Gold’s unconscious body, floating facedown in the water. Miraculously, Gold is making a full recovery. So Bethany is definitely going to need to bring her A game.
Fiji is a challenging wave for surfers of all skill levels, especially when it’s big. It’s tough to imagine surfing there with two arms, let alone one. Still, Bethany’s ability to charge big, hollow lefts will prove to be a threat to today’s top seeds.
“When the contest starts is around the time I gave birth to my son Tobias last year,” Bethany continued. “It’s been an amazing year full of beauty and challenge becoming a mom but also continuing my surfing career. I’ve loved working hard and I am feeling strong and sharp. With a lot of cross training and coming off a recent surf trip filming my film Surfs Like a Girl I feel good heading into this contest.”
Fiji Women’s Pro Round 1 Match-Ups:
Heat 1: Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW), Malia Manuel (HAW), Alessa Quizon (HAW)
Heat 2: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS), Bianca Buitendag (ZAF), Keely Andrew (AUS)
Heat 3: Tyler Wright (AUS), Nikki Van Dijk (AUS), Bethany Hamilton (HAW)
Heat 4: Courtney Conlogue (USA), Bronte Macaulay (AUS), Coco Ho (HAW)
Heat 5: Carissa Moore (HAW), Sage Erickson (USA), Chelsea Tuach (BRB)
Heat 6: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), Johanne Defay (FRA), Laura Enever (AUS)