In the past decade, there have been 56 shark attacks in which surfers were among 70 percent of the victims. However, surfers continue to compete in the water regardless of the statistics because it is their passion. Bethany Hamilton once said in an interview “For me it wasn’t necessarily a fear of sharks because sharks are there and I’m willing to go in their territory to do what I love.” Surfing is such a passion because of many reasons. Each surfer has their own experience and rationalism as to why they love the sport. Some say the thrill of the ocean drives them to continue. Others argue that it is a distraction and it is such a beautiful sport because it uses the force of nature.

The topic as to why people surf is very contradicting. Some surfers do it because they like the adrenaline that comes to catching a wave and others think it is a force of energy submitted through nature. Bethany Hamilton says she enjoys the sport because the water plays with your heart, mind, and body; yet she still comes back for more because it is like an addiction. Surfing is about skill and luck. Often times it doesn’t matter whether you have great abilities to turn or cut back because the power of a wave will be stronger than your body. Bethany says she surfs because “it is a force that moves your body and soul.”

Surfing originated in Hawaii before the 15th century. The Hawaiian word “he’e nalu” meaning wave-sliding was established in the early 20th century which caused timber boards to become popular in USA and Australia. The sport became popular in the 50s and 60s when newer and lighter boards were manufactured. Then Hollywood caught on to the new craze and started producing famous surf movies such as “Hawaiian Surfing Movie”, “The Endless Summer”, “Gidget”, and “Blue Hawaii”. Because of all the fame and excitement, the sport soon blossomed and became appealing to all sorts of people. Soon after the surfing popularity began to rise, competitions and point systems began to establish and clothing companies began to create surf gear that represented the culture of the sport.

A surfing competition is judged on many things. A judge looks at the way the surfer executes different maneuvers when the wave begins to break. This is also where the big points are most likely to be earned.  The risk and commitment is also a big factor when it comes to judging. A surfer that fully commits to a large wave will score a higher amount of points rather than a person that hesitantly commits to a wave closer to shore. Surf companies admire surfers who can perfect the sport, who are brave, and who are role models. Bethany Hamilton is a great role model to many people and younger girls, which is why Rip Curl continued to sponsor her after the attack.

Surfing is not only a risky sport but to some people like Bethany Hamilton it is their life. Bethany spends a majority of her time surfing just like many other professional surfers. Sharks are not on surfers minds because they love the sport so much they dismiss the fact that they are in danger. Surfing empowers the body, mind, and soul and this is why professional surfer Bethany Hamilton loves it so much.


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