Bethany Hamilton Interview

The Kauaian opens up about her recent victory at Pipeline, meeting the President, and future projects


Bethany Hamilton displays the hardware from her recent win at the Surf N Sea Women’s Pipeline Pro.

Between her biopic Hollywood film, appearances on Oprah, and her recent attendance at the National Prayer Breakfast with President Obama, you could argue that Bethany Hamilton is the most influential surfer alive today. And while the bulk of her media coverage lately has extended beyond just her prowess in the lineup, Bethany recently took home a win at the Surf N Sea Women's Pipeline Pro. Following her victory, we caught up with Bethany to ask her a few questions.

How does this win fit into your career highlights?

It felt really good. It felt amazing actually. I've always had a big desire to surf Pipeline and I love getting barreled. So to be able to surf fun Pipeline, get a couple of barrels, and actually win an event out here is an amazing feeling. I'm just really happy about the whole thing.

Can you tell me about the conditions for the event?

Well, we had a really long waiting period. We had to run the event after the boy's pro junior contest, so we had to wait for that to finish. I'd been surfing Pipe a lot before the contest to practice and had some really fun days. When they finally told us that they were going to run the comp, I looked at the conditions and it looked pretty junk. I was sort of bummed at first, but when I paddled out I realized that there were actually some really fun waves. It was more of a north swell, so it wasn't classic Pipeline. Backdoor was breaking more and it felt more like a pointbreak. I had a few good waves in my first heat and was able to build on that momentum all the way through the event.

It's been a while since you've had a win, correct?

Yeah, my dad told me after I won that it had been 10 years since I won a contest! I had to laugh at that. But yeah, it feels really good to finally win again.

I remember a few years back you were pretty close to qualifying. Is that something you're still trying to do?

No, not this year. I was only a few spots away a few years back. But this year, I'm just taking it a little easier. I recently got married so I'm enjoying that. I’m also working on a movie project with Aaron Lieber. We're basically going to document what my life's like and then mix in some surf trips to get good some waves. I'm really looking forward to that project.

Do you think you'll want to take another shot at qualifying after that?

Yeah, maybe. I think I'll just try and enjoy this year and make my decision after it’s over though. I have to say that after watching Bianca surf at Snapper, it made me want to try and compete at that level. I think we have a similar approach, so it made me think about really trying to qualify again.

You recently traveled to DC for the National Prayer Breakfast with President Obama. What was that like?

It was an amazing experience. I'm pretty used to public speaking events, but I was super nervous for this one. For one, President Obama and the First Lady were sitting right next to me and I had to give a six-minute-long speech as well. But it turned out great. I think people were really stoked. I hope they were. But it was great to meet the president and talk about Hawaii and surfing with him.

Any other projects coming up?

Yes, actually. I'm about to release my second book. It's called Bethany Hamilton Body and Soul: A Girl's Guide to a Fit, Fun, and Fabulous Life. It comes out in May and is geared toward young women. It was a really fun project to work on and I hope it will help out a lot of young women.