Since I surfed 40 foot waves at Jaws in 2016, I often get questions like:
“How are you not afraid of big wave surfing? Aren’t you scared that you’ll wipeout?”
“Big wave surfing” in the surf world is considered surfing waves over about 20 feet high, so my waves at Jaws are definitely in that category. And yes, I did wipeout on some huge waves in the process – it was pretty gnarly. However, the whole experience of surfing Jaws was incredible and I would do it all over again!
My documentary, Unstoppable, shows all the details of this. This film portrays my journey of pursuing being my best in the ocean. It spans my life from childhood to motherhood and gives you a very clear picture of all the training and prep that I’ve done and all that I overcame to conquer big wave surfing. Here’s a little clip from Unstoppable about Jaws:
In my mind, I compare big wave surfing to other remarkable things someone can do.
For example, most people wouldn’t go on a stage in front of 50,000 people without any prep. They would outline and write their speech, work on their confidence, memorize some of what they are going to say and really just prepare for such a huge day.
It’s the same with surfing for me. I’ve been surfing since I was a child. I’ve devoted much of my life to preparing for different moments that the ocean may bring.
For example, I’ve trained myself to be able to hold my breath underwater for a very long time in case I wipeout and get held under by the wave. (Sometimes I would hold my breath while watching the show The Office because it’s really hard not to bust out laughing! I like to get creative with my training!) I’m also an incredibly strong swimmer and I understand ocean currents and conditions very well. I know how to surf in both good and bad conditions and on many types of waves and many types of boards. I studied the waves at Jaws for weeks and months before I surfed there.
I wasn’t very afraid of big wave surfing because I knew I could do it.
With that being said, I definitely had moments where the adrenaline was going and my blood was pumping like crazy. In those moments I did have a little bit of healthy fear – fear of the power and enormity of God’s creation and an urgency to put all my training into practice to prevent wiping out or getting hurt.
I had just given birth to my first son, Tobias, about 7 months earlier so I definitely wanted to stay safe. However, I wasn’t too worried because I also had a super rad, very skilled rescue and safety team out in the water with me.
Here’s the crew and I getting stoked as we rode out to the break:
We had multiple jet skis, a boat and a helicopter out there. So we were very prepared from all aspects. I trusted them, I trusted myself and I trusted the gear I was using.
And here’s my cute little cheering squad! 💛
Once everything was all good to go, our friend babysat Tobias on shore so Adam and my dad could hop on the boat and watch the action. My dad, Adam and my team were all out on the water to support me and they were all just so stoked that I had this opportunity to pursue my dreams.
I watched the waves roll in and I got so fired up. The healthy fear was there a little bit, but mostly I was like, “I’m ready, let’s do this!!”. Here’s a clip of one of my best waves that day:
Big wave surfing is such a thrill for me. It was the next step as I developed my surfing skills and it was really amazing to be able to do something that I worked towards for so much of my life. I get so stoked just thinking about it all!!
I’m cheering you on today to work towards your goals & dreams, even if they feel a bit intimidating at times!! You’ve got this!