THESE GIRLS HAVE SUPERPOWERS
Updated: Apr 11
In order to showcase and support the diversity of surfing, WMNSurfMag has been working on a portrait series, where we will introduce to you not only fierce females who fight for their rights to surf but also surfers around the world who portray what we also stand for:
SURFING IS FOR EVERYONE!
Our team first encountered the term Adaptive Surfing at the 2019 Super Girl Pro Surf Competition, an event dedicated to encouraging and inspiring women of all ages to try different sports. Aside from the main surfing contest, featuring some of the world’s best surfers — Carissa Moore, Lakey Peterson, Caroline Marks and Bethany Hamilton — participants were able to interact with sport experts at the event site.
We connected with surfers whose lives embody the idea of limitlessness: the girls and women competing in the adaptive surfing heat.
Some of these women were born with disabilities and learned to live an adaptive life from a young age, while others developed disabilities later in life and had to adapt their techniques to keep chasing their passions. However, all of these women overcame their limitations and pushed through their fears to compete at the 2019 Super Girl Pro Surf Competition.
The first installment of this mini-series on Adaptive Surfing will feature surfers who were born with a disability. The stories of Liv Stone, Faith Hope and Darian Bailey Haynes deeply inspire us—these women are proof that surfing is for everyone!
Liv embodies limitlessness with every wave she catches.
She grew up inland on the East Coast in Pennsylvania. She was born with two shorter arms and two fingers on each arm. This means when she paddles out, “each stroke matters.” Today, she uses a board from a local shop called Board Source that is slightly wider and thicker to help her pop up.
In 2019, Liv competed alongside 5 others in the Super Girl Pro Surf Competition’s first ever Adaptive Heat.
“We are all brought together to create awareness for disabled surfers, because we don’t get as much recognition as other surfers do,” Liv said. “But we are at the same level as everyone else. We need that recognition, so it’s amazing that they are allowing us to have this adaptive heat.”
At the kickoff of the event, WMNSurfMag sat down with Liv to hear more of her story. Just days before her heat, she was both excited and nervous.
“All the pros are surfing on Sunday, and we are surfing right before them. That means everyone is going to watch us,” Liv said. “But when I’m out there surfing regularly, like every day, I don’t look at the beach. So I feel like I’m not going to be looking at the crowds. I’m just going to do my thing. You know, just have a lot of fun, because that’s what surfing is all about.”
This fun-driven surfing philosophy has defined Liv’s career, so far. When we talked about her preference between short- and longboards, Liv laughed as she explained: “I longboard when it’s more mellowed out. I like walking to the nose, and I really like chill vibes. But I also like to rip.”
I went home and got a surfboard and started surfing more. Now I surf everyday.
Because Liv grew up away from the water, it wasn’t until she attended a surfing retreat with Bethany Hamilton that she got in the water for the first time. As soon she did, she fell in love.
“It was amazing,” Liv said. “I went home and got a surfboard and started surfing more. Now I surf everyday.”
Many people in Liv’s life, including Bethany Hamilton, encouraged her along the way.
“[Bethany] has been super supportive of my surfing career from the start. She has been like a mentor to me. She can see my drive and passion. I look up to her,” Liv said. “My mom is also out here and she doesn’t surf, but she helps me with living here socially, training and pushing myself. She’s always been there for me. My coaches have also really helped me get where I am today.”
I just tell myself that I can do it, instead of I can't.
That isn’t to say things have always been easy. Liv explained that she never liked talking about her disability when she was younger.
“It used to make me embarrassed. ‘What’s wrong with me?’ ‘Why am I like this?’” Liv said. “Now that I’m older, when I’m surfing and meeting amazing people, I know I was created like this. I can do amazing things where I am.”
Positivity has been a big part of her psyche, as a young surfer.
“I always try to stay positive in every situation,” Liv said. “Like the waves today aren’t that great, but I can possibly do it. I just tell myself that I can do it, instead of I can’t.”
Liv told us that fears and limitations, for her, are all mental — in surfing and in life.
“I feel like you need that mindset of always being positive in any situation. You can’t talk yourself down,” Liv said. “There are so many dangers in the water, like wiping out, getting hit by a board, etc. But you can’t let that run through your head all the time. If it comes, we’ll get over it.”
Faith, 11, lives in Maui and has been surfing for six years and competing for two. The Super Girl Pro Surf Competition’s 2019 adaptive heat was her first. Faith said she was excited for the event and was especially inspired by the fact that it was created specifically for girls. She also told us Bethany Hamilton is one of her biggest inspirations.
“She really inspires me to keep trying my hardest,” Faith said. “Even after her arm got attacked, she kept on trying.”
Even though she is physically limited, Faith’s love for surfing has kept her going.
I sometimes get pounded and get scared. But then I keep going out and keep trying.
One day, Faith dreams of surfing Jaws.
“I’m a team rider of Kazuma Surfboards. He makes my boards built-in, so I can put my handles in it. My board is a 5’8”,” Faith said. “In the big waves, I sometimes get pounded and get scared. But then I keep going out and keep trying.”
Darian Bailey Haynes
Darian, 19, grew up on Oahu and has been surfing for nine years and competing for five. She travels around the world to compete as an adaptive surfer — recently to England and Wales. Darian usually surfs on a 6’3”, but she said, as long as she can figure out how to use a board, she loves it. John Parks made her last board.
“It takes me a while to learn how to use some of the equipment, especially when I don’t have a handle,” Darian said. "Right now I’m just working on my cutbacks and being able to stay on the face of the wave, cutting back like the girls in the comp test. If I could surf like that, I’d be set in the adoptive competitions.”
This year was also Darian’s first competing at the Super Girl Pro Surf Competition.
Darian explained that it was relieving that this event was created just for girls.
“I love it because I’m against boys all the time. It’s nice to just be against girls for once,” Darian said. “Especially in adaptive surfing, because some girls just don’t come to the events. I’m not sure why, but they should because we need them.”
Don't be scared. It’s not scary once you get out there.
When it comes to facing her fears, Darian told us that remembering that the ocean is not going to hurt her is hard to remember.
“But once you get that through your head, you’re okay,” Darian said. “But when it comes to the reef, it’s a lot harder because everything’s going for your head and everything’s moving really fast, especially when you’re under the water.”
Darian explained that her strategy is to hold her breath and slow her thoughts by counting One Mississippi, Two Mississippi. When it comes down to it, Darian’s advice is to push through your fear.
“Don't be scared. It’s not scary once you get out there,” Darian said. “It’s just scary trying to get out and past the waves. Other than that, it’s pretty peaceful.”
She also told us about her support network that has inspired her throughout her life to keep pushing.
“I’ve never met Bethany Hamilton, but she’s definitely determined,” Darian said. “I look up to her, because she’s in these pro competitions with one arm. She’s pretty cool. And Doug Silva is my coach. He’s improved my surfing more in a couple of months than my old coach did in five years. I love him.”
This is the first of two installments in our miniseries on Adaptive Surfing. Look out for the next installment in the coming weeks!
Photos by Miriam Joanna / @miriam_joanna_art