It’s my favorite time of the year! Winter weather, storm surges, El Niño, the world changing, and plenty of fresh, crisp waves rolling into the Hawaiian Islands. I had an amazing few days recently. I’m so grateful for my waves at Waimea so far this winter and I’m loving this photo by Gary Miyata.
Here’s the story: I paddled out and within about a minute of sitting in the lineup, the wave above came right to me with no takers.. So I turned around and went for it. Sometimes you have to wait a super long time to catch a wave at Waimea when there’s 50+ people sitting on the peak and the waves are solid triple overhead+. I was lucky that this one swung towards me at just the right moment. Mahalo for this next Photo by Larry Haynes @fluid_vision I paddled back out with the biggest smile on my face and went back and caught a few more like this one, shot by Terry Reis @surfshooterhawaii I’ve only just begun surfing Waimea over the past 2 years, a life goal I had for a very long time. It’s really amazing to be manifesting what I have wanted to do all my life. Now I’m surfing big waves on Oahu year round and it’s a dream come true! I’m still learning and growing in the realm of big wave surfing, but I love large surf and it’s so exhilarating to ride giant walls of water. I live for it. Here’s the whole wave shot by Terry Reis. People often ask me how I learned to surf waves like Waimea and are surprised when they learn that I grew up surfing in New Jersey. Doing right, adapting to the Hawaiian culture, studying the ocean, choosing the right moments to surf.. that’s how I catch better waves and improve myself nowadays. Photo credit @foster_and_sons I got into surfing because my dad was a lifeguard captain in Seaside Park, New Jersey for 28 years. It was there I recieved most of my training to become a well rounded waterwoman. Paddling, swimming, and running were my strengths. I enjoyed observing the ocean very closely, studying currents, winds, swell directions, patterns in climate, wildlife, ect. I built a close relationship with the ocean from an early age. I always felt comfortable out at sea. I could understand what was happening to the ocean, why she was doing what she was doing, and how to move with her. Nobody taught me how to surf when I first started riding. As a kid, I just took a board in the water to enjoy riding waves, even if it was just shorebreak. I loved it. It was my favorite thing to do. When I was a young grom, there was no surf culture in New Jersey. There were hardly any other girls in the early late 80’s or early 90’s surfing in the area. I had no siblings and my cousins were mostly boys so I did the things that they did, such as body boarding. Our moms would take us to the beach every day in the summertime. The water in New Jersey is only warm for 3 months year and wetsuits were kind of new in those days. Now they have high tech wetsuits, shops, surf schools, surf camps, and plenty of people, including women, charging the beach breaks throughout the year. If you ever visit the Jersey Shore, be sure to stop by Ocean Hut and Right Coast Surf Shop for the best gear! The owners have been extremely supportive to me throughout my surfing career, are friendly and knowledable about upcoming swells, and they both totally shred! New Jersey only gets significant swell from waves from passing storms. These storms usually are ones that directly hit the region, which sometimes turn out to be a real bummer instead of a great surf experience. You show up to the spot and the police or lifeguards would have whole place barricaded or red flagged. There’s a lot of hazards that occur after large storms in New Jersey. Runoff, bacteria, large debris from structural damages, muck, filth, freezing cold water, ice, massive floods. It can be really gnarly surfing the kind of storms that New Jersey gets, like this one December of 2012. But it can also can be extremely enjoyable at many of the breaks after a storm. We have a great hurricane season at times where the storms will pass us, missing our coastline, and produce epic barrels. When it got good, I was on it! The view of the ocean is always so mesmerizing after storms. I could stare at the water all day long. It’s unfortunate that New Jersey has been getting hit with such bad structural damage lately. When the region is cleared of storm damage, New Jersey is such a beautiful place! History of storms shows us now what happens to developed barrier islands over time… eventually the structures get pounded by rogue seas. I grew up riding Funtown and Casino Piers as they originally stood. Now Funtown Pier is gone! It was destroyed by hurricane Sandy and one year after they tried fixing it up, it burned down in a fire. Casino Pier changed dramatically too, but was able to be salvaged somewhat. I always knew deep inside that I had potential to be a big wave rider and I didn’t want to see that dream of mine just fizzle out so thats why I came to Hawaii in 2012, to build a better life around the sport I love. Photo by @foster_and_sons For most of my life before moving to Hawaii, I was a lifeguard beside my father and I am now semi-retired from life guarding due to various changes in my path. I live in Hawaii full time now but I still visit my folks back home when I get the chance. My recent visit to New Jersey was magical. I spent the whole summer of 2015 working at Bum Rogers Crabhouse and Tavern in Seaside Park, teaching surfing lessons, and enjoying some surfing on my shortboards! Back in the days of when I was a kid, I began riding waves as a body boarder at around age 4 and expressed my interest in a surfboard for what seemed like forever until I scored my first board from a fellow lifeguard, Bill Chaney, when I was in 5th grade. I was riding waves very young and loved scaring the crap out of the lifeguards because I didn’t mind getting pitted and pitched. Once I acquired my first surfboard in 5th grade, I taught myself. I utilized what was available to me and maximized my fun by choosing the right equipment for each situation. Before the internet evolved, I read surfing magazines and learned how to surf by watching my friends and DVDs like Momentum & Football Shmootball in high school. In college, I spent a few years going to school at UNCW and I lived off campus in Kure Beach, North Carolina with the Silvagni family. While living there, I enjoyed taking surf trips to the outer banks, skateboarding or surfing every day, and entering surf contests in the area. Mahalo to the Silvagni family for the continued love and encouragement all these years! Next photo by @jrmaosi shows what I’m up to now. I took my first trip to Hawaii in 2005 and that’s when I surfed the best waves of my life at that moment in time. I got hooked on the feeling of surfing here and made sure I got back to Hawaii after I graduated college in 2012. That’s when my whole life had suddenly changed. Upon my return to Hawaii in 2012, I met a native Hawaiian named Sturmar, who shared his surfing world with me. He got me on some bigger boards to ride that were custom made by local shapers SKI and Dick Brewer. The magenta Brewer is a 9″8 in this photo by “Foster and Sons.” The Hawaiian taught me zen and how I ought to be surfing.. which totally changed my perspective on what kind of waves I rode and how I rode them. I listen to him and we continue to surf together often.I feel comfortable riding the way Sturmar has indroduced to me, which is the classic Hawaiian style. Learning patience, focusing my awareness, breathing properly, and believing in myself are some of things I really appreciate him for. He has provided me with some incrdible boards to ride over the past couple years. He trained me how to navigate outer reefs and to avoid making stupid mistakes. I was very blessed to meet him. If it wasn’t for Sturmar, my path would have been completely different. I probably wouldn’t be surfing Waimea right now. This photo is by “Foster and Sons” of me taking off on a Waimea airdrop. My first wave takeoff at Waimea happened recently so it’s been a super exciting new experience. I’m frothing and just having the time of my life out here. I am so thankful to have an opportunity to ride waves like Waimea in my lifetime. Here’s the landing of my airdrop by “Foster and Sons.” Thank goodness I stuck it. I would like to thank God, my family, and friends for this journey. First, my parents.. You both have always been my supporters, I hope someday you can come visit Hawaii and watch me surf Waimea live. I love you both! Larry Haynes @fluid_vision, I really really appreciate this beautiful shot! And a feature on Interia’s Instagram page! @theinertia Mahalo Hen House sisters @jolynhawaii @ledarling @leahloves & Shannon Marie Quirk with the Intertia for your continued support! Shannon’s recent big wave footage this winter is epic 🌊✌🏼️Go check out what she’s been up to, filming epic Jaws during this incredible El Niño season @shannonreporting @theinertia Gracias Polly @pollypine for being my wing woman in the lineup on the big days! Polly is always encouraging me, sharing waves, good energy and she catches some impressive bombs! I am so proud of her for her achievements in the water this season! Muchos Gracias for pushing me to surf bigger swells and to overcome my fears! Cheers to an epic week surfing Waimea together Polly! Also Mahalo to my Hawaiian friends, Sturmar 💞, Naki, Lillinoe, Suzy, Kalai, who planted seeds of hope in my heart and welcomed me to the island with Aloha! Cheeeee haaaaa!!!! @tailsticks