Sarah Gerhardt was a Cal Poly student when I was fresh out of nearby Morro Bay High School, and we both surfed the Rock pretty much every day. She was easily one of the best surfers in town and certainly the most beautiful. Gerhardt had the sweetest voice in the lineup and I had a massive crush. We all did.
Gerhardt also regularly trotted past most of us at a quick jog, headed board-in-hand for the Rock’s paddle out spot at the outlet, when we were reduced to cowering in our cars during periods of unruly winter surf.
I was pleased a few years later when I learned that she’d taken on Mavericks with aplomb and obliterated the male/female divide in Northern California big-wave surfing. She did that while a grad student at UC Santa Cruz (She earned a PhD in Chemistry). Not because she wanted to be a pro surfer, or a household name. Gerhardt just loved riding big waves.
And I was just as pleased last week to wake up to NPR and hear Gerhardt’s voice on “Morning Edition,” as she talked about her rocky childhood, what surfing meant to her and her family, and the first time she surfed Mavs.
Gerhardt will be part of the women’s heat at the Titans of Mavericks event this winter – assuming the contest gets called on, of course.
Listen to the great little piece below.