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Beach Grit

Bethany: Better Than You!

Michael Ciaramella

by Michael Ciaramella

What's not to love about Beth's technique, charisma?

If you don’t appreciate Bethany Hamilton, you are anti-anti-depressive and should probably leave right now. The shark attack survivor/mother/world class surfer personifies class in a sport defined by egotism and insouciance.

I once watched Matt George cry while reading, aloud, his profile on Bethany Hamilton. Dramatic, yes, but it is a wonderful piece that one would only benefit from reading. For instance, did you know that Uncle Laird put a price on the assailant’s head, leading to the culling of a fourteen-foot tiger shark whose jaws matched the markings on her board within two micrometers? Derek would be so proud.

This year I had the fortune of sharing a few sessions with Bethany while she was warming up for the Fiji Pro. Her athletic frame cruised the Cloudbreak lineup with just the right combination of force and attitude. People cheered her into waves as if she needed the extra boost. She didn’t.

Bethany has invented a crafty technique for wave catching, wherein she positions herself to the meet the wave at its near-breaking point, pulls the nose of her board back into the lurching wall, and uses the board’s buoyancy and wave’s momentum to sling herself over the ledge. If unable to position herself for that maneuver, she’s still able to out-paddle most of her peers — dare I say out-surf them, too.

This video features Bethany cauterizing the unsuspecting walls of Pasta Point in the Maldives. Is it her best surfing? The most stunning piece of film? Nay. But it forces me to remember and appreciate everything she’s done for surfing and those living with disabilities. Bethany Hamilton has singlehandedly changed our game for the better.