She is one of the most famous names in surfing, a global celebrity with reach beyond our salty circle. Bethany Hamilton found the spotlight by accident in 2003, when the budding surf star was attacked by a shark at home in Hawaii. It was a gruesome twist of fate for the then 13-year-old that cost the Kauian her left arm, but inspired her to go on and become the incredible character the world knows today.
Today Bethany is hoping that the Rip Curl Cup Padang Padang will run while she’s in Bali. Bethany has competed at Padang once before, in 2012, when she progressed through a couple of rounds and left a trail of beaten boys behind her, and she’d love the chance to go a heat or two further this time around. As she’ll happily admit, Bethany lives for lefts, so much so that she passed up a trip with the Rip Curl women’s team to mainland Mexico’s notorious right points to come thread Balinese barrels, and unwind a little away from the endless hustle of team duties. Until we caught up with her, at least!
As well as surfing all over the Bukit Peninsula the last few weeks, Bethany recently took off on her maiden voyage to Lakey Peak, getting stuck into all sorts of pits and pieces and discovering another part of this tropical archipelago along the way. On her return from Sumbawa Rip Curl lined up a group of Balinese most talented grommet’s to meet their idol and surf beneath Uluwatu’s famed cliffs, a magical experience for all involved. “I loved it, absolutely one of the highlights of my trip,” beamed Bethany afterwards, her megawatt smile only trumped by the glorious grins of a half-dozen glowing Balinese girls.
Bethany heads next to the US, where she is working on a high performance piece with filmmaker Aaron Lieber. “You know John John Florence’s short movie Done?” asks Lieber, “that’s what we’re aiming for with this, because apart from everything in her life, above all Bethany rips.” After witnessing how she carries herself in and out of the water these past few weeks in Bali, you’re not going to hear any arguments here.
Next on the agenda after that? “Tahiti, then maybe Fiji, and some other reefs in Hawaii,” Bethany says through her perma-smile. The girl is not, and never has been, scared. It feels as though at 24 Bethany’s journey has only just begun, and it’s going to be a heck of a show. Enjoy.