It’s hard to imagine surfing Oahu’s Pipeline break with one arm, paddling out into one of the most revered surfbreaks in the world. But Bethany Hamilton did more than just paddle out—she won this week’s Surf N Sea Pipeline Women’s Pro contest.
The 24-year-old pro surfer from Kauai became a celebrity when she returned to professional surfing after surviving a shark attack in which she lost her left arm. The movie Soul Surfer documented her inspiring story and her courage.
Conditions at Pipeline during this week’s event were “not exactly Pipe,” says Hamilton. Instead of the raging barrels that sometimes roll through the break, the waves were small and fun. The waves might have been smaller than what she is used to on the pro circuit, surfing all over the world, but Hamilton still dominated all her heats, pulling into a small barrel early in the contest and holding on to her lead throughout.
Here’s a video clip of Bethany catching a winter wave at Pipeline in surf that’s more typical of the break:
Bethany was just 13 when she suffered her injury, but she wasted no time in getting back on her board and back into the water. Here’s an older video clip of her as a young woman that shows her determination and fearlessness.
She is one of the most inspiring female athletes the world has ever known.