Shark attack survivor Bethany Hamilton wins professional surf contest at Pipeline

Shark attack survivor Bethany Hamilton on her way to a first place finish at the Surf-n-Sea Pipe Pro; photo Betty Depolito
Shark attack survivor Bethany Hamilton on her way to a first-place finish at the Surf-n-Sea Pipe Pro; photo by Betty Depolito

Bethany Hamilton, the 24-year-old Kauai surfer who lost her arm after a shark attack when she was 13, has defied all odds and won a professional surf contest at one of the world’s most renowned waves: Pipeline, on the North Shore of Oahu.

Her inspirational story became the basis for the Hollywood film “Soul Surfer,” and these days she travels the world surfing big waves and doing church and charity work for victims of traumatic injuries. She likes to surf Pipeline even on heavy days when she has to compete for waves with a large crowd.

Surfing with one arm is challenging; surfing Pipeline with one arm is simply amazing. Her strong, powerful surfing in the 3- to 4-foot waves at the famous Banzai Pipeline in Hawaii gave her a commanding win over her competitors. While the waves weren’t huge, Hamilton noted they were “better than most waves I surf all over the world in contests.” Later, on her Facebook page, she added, “It feels good to surf and compete well and take the win!”

Hamilton was given no special privileges or assistance making it past the pounding waves and was still able to defeat a crop of talented female surfers including Anastasia Ashley, Dax McGill, and Surf-n-Sea Women’s Pipe Pro runner-up Moana Jones.

Bethany Hamilton turns off the bottom at Pipeline, one of the most dangerous waves in the world; photo: Betty Depolito
Bethany Hamilton turns off the bottom at Pipeline, one of the most dangerous waves in the world. Photo by Betty Depolito

The surf for the Pipe Pro was in the 4- to 5-foot range, and Hamilton was able to seal her win with a series of powerful turns on waves that broke over the sharp coral reef that Pipeline is infamous for.

2014 Surf-n-Sea Pipeline Pro Results:
1. Bethany Hamilton
2. Moana Jones
3. Sayuri Hashimoto
4. Dax McGill

Bethany Hamilton is carried up the beach by her husband Adam and friend after winning the Surf-n-Sea Pipe Pro; photo courtesy Bethany's Facebook page.
Bethany Hamilton is carried up the beach by her husband, Adam, and a friend after winning the Surf-n-Sea Pipe Pro. Photo courtesy Hamilton’s Facebook page

Additional reporting by Jamie Tierney.

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