COVER S TORY
Professional surfer and
shark-attack survivor rides
the wave of life
HEN YOU ASK
how she would
describe her career,
she tells you she is a
wife, a mom and
then a surfer. It’s an unexpected
but genuine response from the
professional surfer, who is currently traveling around the
world for a surf documentary
with her husband, Adam
Dirks, and their ;-year-old
son, Tobias, in tow.
“We are constantly filming,” says Hamilton,
a Hawaii native. “If I’m not doing competition,
we’re going on surf trips and filming and documenting certain stuff, so I have a lot of drive to
work hard for that and just be in really good shape
and have my body really strong, because I can
really surf better when I’m stronger.”
The Connection caught up with ;;-year-old
Hamilton, a Costco member, at her rental house
blocks away from the beach in San Clemente,
California, where she was staying while participating in a surf competition. Hamilton became
well known in ;;;; at age ;;, when, while surfing,
she survived an attack by a ;;-foot tiger shark,
which took her left arm just below the shoulder.
She persevered and was back in the water and on
her board ;; days after the attack.
“I just really loved surfing, and I was very
passionate about surfing, and I was more scared
of losing surfing than [of] sharks,” Hamilton says.
Constantly barraged by the media, the teenager soon grew tired of repeating her story, so the
following year she shared her experience in her
first book, an autobiography, Soul Surfer: A True
Story of Faith, Family, and Fighting to Get Back
on the Board (Simon & Schuster, ;;;;; available
at bethanyhamilton.com). However, the book
invited even greater scrutiny into her life, she
says, and made her vulnerable to even more questions about her experience and the attack, which
she declined to speak about during this interview.
“But then, at the same time, I wanted to share
how I was able to overcome, hugely through my
faith in God and just sharing my passion for
surfing,” says Hamilton, who began public speaking as a teenager.
S u r fslik eag ir l
Growing up on the north shore of Kauai with
parents and two older brothers who surfed,
Hamilton was practically destined to excel in the
sport. By age ; she was surfing competitively, and
by age ; she was being sponsored by a popular
surfing apparel company in local competitions.
After the attack, Hamilton says, she faced a
learning curve. Although she knew how to surf,
she had to learn how to surf differently with only
one arm, dealing with issues such as being able to
fla w e d Beautifully
BY CHRISTINA GUERRERO
Bethany Hamilton beachside
in 2004 with her surfboard
from that fateful attack.
NOAHHAMILTON S E A N