August 19, 2022

Inside the monster

Keala Kennelly on enormous waves, fear, and true desires

Keala Kennelly is one of my surf idols. And not at all because she rides on giant waves; in this regard, I believe that everyone has their way to experience “That very feeling,” it doesn’t even have to be surfing. I admire her for another reason.

Keala Kennelly is true to her calling, talent, and passion. True to herself despite so many obstacles!

I have translated her TEDx talk for you, where she talks about her challenging journey.

I am Keala Kelli, and I am a surfer.

I have often heard that no other woman can skate like me throughout my life.

But, being one of a kind is pretty lonely, so I’ll try to get a little closer to you and shed some light on how I feel on big waves like this

People constantly ask me: “What is it like? What’s it like? “I think the main thing people want to know is what makes me risk my life? Difficult to describe, but I’ll try.

When you ride inside a wave, you feel the energy of all the water that wraps around you.

At this moment, you feel the pure power of nature, and this is one of the most delightful sensations in life.

The larger the wave, the more water moves around you, and accordingly, the intensity of this feeling multiplies

Time slows down; some of the senses, such as smell and hearing, seem to disappear, while others, on the contrary, are incredibly sharpened.

So much so that it looks as if your superpowers are awakening. The focus of attention is collected in one single point, and tactile sensations intensify.

You feel every drop of water falling on you, literally merging with the wave. You can foresee how it will move.

And when I leave the collapsing wave, driven by the explosion of foam, for a few more moments, I feel like the master of the universe.

But I am not the master of the universe, this moment passes, and I again become a woman in sports, dominated by men, a lesbian in sports where traditional orientation is promoted, just a person who feels guilty towards his other half for neglecting his household responsibilities hunting for another swell.

Story

So that you can understand me better, I will tell my story. I was born and raised on the island of Kauai in a family with three children: myself and two brothers.

I felt a powerful male influence from my father and generally grew up as a kind of “kid.” I wanted to do everything that boys do

At the same time, even when I played football better than half of the boys in the district, they still told me: girls cannot play football; this is a game for boys.

What happens when we humans are told that we cannot get what we want? But then, we are starting to enjoy it even more!

It was according to this scenario that my life developed. I was told I could not do something because I was a girl, and I showed tenfold persistence.

Even as a child, my dad taught my brothers and me to surf, and from the very beginning, I fell in love with this sport; I immediately knew that this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my days.

My family was very supportive of me, and I didn’t care if men dominated surfing, and it was difficult for women to earn respect

But, deep down, I knew that this was my gift, talent, and the more I honed my skills, the better I accepted and understood myself, the more I loved my life.

And since the waves in Hawaii are the largest and most powerful in the world, the guys and I constantly challenged ourselves and climbed into more fierce dealings.

I liked surfing in general, the way you feel when you ride the wave, but when I rode big and powerful waves, it was a challenge – both physical and psychological.

Regular waves could not give me such emotions. But since the giant wave is a dangerous activity, it is viewed as a purely masculine sport.

And every time I swam on enormous waves, I was the only girl on the lineup

I have ridden waves and spots that women in the surf world thought were incapable of handling, so I quickly earned a reputation as the only woman pushing the boundaries of what is possible.

I knew that this was my mission. The only problem was that if I wanted to pursue a career as a professional surfer, I would have to compete.

Competitions

I have spent many years competing on the ASP World Tour (now WSL) and have built a very successful competitive career

But the tour turned out to be a dead-end road for me. It allowed me to get sponsors and make money surfing, but it wasn’t doing what I had a passion for.

I got the brightest emotions from surfing outside the competition, except for those rare cases when a big swell came on the days of the contest.

So it turned out that I, without conscious intention, exchanged my passion for money

Nothing is more frustrating than knowing that you have talent and not realizing it. It has caused endless suffering for me. But not only that.

While on tour, I betrayed myself twice. The World Tour and the surf industry negatively favor homosexual athletes. Lesbians are condemned.

They don’t become champions; they don’t make good contracts with sponsors.

When I first started competing on the World Tour, I had a boyfriend, but it became apparent that I preferred women as I got older.

However, I decided to hide the skeleton in a closet to build a successful career.

At some point, I felt that I was stuck in a routine

Life has become a trap, racing like a horse in a merry-go-round: ups and downs, victories and defeats, but for the most part, you just cut round and round.

You know exactly where you are going because you just run after the horses in front of you.

I didn’t want to run after other horses anymore; I wanted to take the iron pole out of my ass and finally run freely.

The same wave

The decisive moment came when a stage in Tahiti was added to the competition schedule. Chop (Teahupoo) is a unique spot, challenging and scary because the wave breaks right on the reef.

Swell approaches the coast at great depths and stumbles upon an almost vertical reef wall; the water begins to wrap itself in, creating an incredibly thick, sharp, and mighty wave.

Chop is one of the most challenging and most dangerous waves on the planet and one of the most beautiful. Years later, it became the site of my brightest triumph

But, revealing all the cards in advance, I will say that I experienced my worst nightmare here.

The first time I was on Chop, I almost died. Literally. I was so obsessed with the desire to ride this beautiful wave that I did not realize how huge the forecast came that day.

I found myself in a wave of this site

And she ate me. The wave broke my board into three pieces, and I was pushed into the reef with such force that I could not move.

Two more waves, just as vast and powerful, kept me underwater. Finally, life flashed before my eyes, and I thought: “Damn, it looks like this is the end.”

At that moment, I felt not just crushed but defeated. For the first time in my life, I thought: perhaps I have reached the limit of what I am capable of because I am a woman.

I was ready to give up, but suddenly I found the strength to fight for my life. Finally, I was able to save myself.

Since then, I have returned to Chopra every year

I rode on large enough waves and showed a good level, but I did not dare to get into a massive alignment again, such as it was the first time.

I did not doubt my abilities and knew that this promised me the best wave in my life, but to try to take it, I had to overcome the fear that what happened then could happen again.

And now, several years later, during a massive forecast, I bought a ticket (Note: the Chop wave is not visible from the shore, it is fair enough, therefore, for extensive forecasts, viewers are taken to watch the “show” from the channel) and convinced one guy who drove jet ski, give me a chance and get me on the wave. The rest is history.

Until that day, no one even thought that a woman could ride a wave of this size on this spot

First of all, I proved to myself, and at the same time to the whole world, that this is possible.

Then, when I was pulled on that first big wave, I ended up in a giant pipe and left.

At that moment, I experienced the most incredible feeling in my life. I felt truly alive.

Every time I return and make such rides again, I share this very feeling again. But every time, I have to overcome the same fear.

Since I enjoy riding such massive, life-threatening waves, people think I have no fear. It has nothing to do with reality. This wave scares me to the shit; I’m just terrified.

Chop almost killed me, inflicted terrible injuries on me, and left scars for life

So why am I doing this? Why do I come back again and again and endanger my life?

Sometimes I ask myself this question myself, and the answer always sounds loud and clear inside.

“Once having experienced this feeling, knowing that it exists, it is impossible to live and pretend that it does not exist. It will constantly itch in my soul, whispering that there is something more in life. “

On the one hand, this wave terrifies me because I know the cost of a mistake

But on the other hand, it seduces me because only she can give me the most intense feeling of life. I am addicted to this sensation.

And my desire to experience it again turns out to be stronger than fear. It takes time to overcome fear, but it’s hard to live differently once you’ve done it.

A year after my first trip to Chopra, I left the World Tour and stopped hiding my sexual orientation. I lost three of my four sponsors and spent the last five years of my life hunting big waves.

I follow my passion again, but I must admit that the difficulties I have to overcome sometimes become even more difficult for me than riding on such a wave.

They bring me back to earth every time I convince myself that they have no power over me and my desires

In life, we ​​are all victims of money and financial stability, which take us away from our true desires—forcing us to make choices that are not to our liking.

What would you be doing if the question of money was not a question?

“What did you dream of devoting your life to before you found out that the world is full of hungry actors, musicians, and poets?”

People do things for which they receive no rewards, no pay, but if what they do makes them feel alive, personal satisfaction is their reward.

It is something that money cannot buy

Genuine desire cannot be accepted because it comes from within.

And there is only one way to satisfy him – not to accumulate things but to invest in yourself, to remain honest with yourself, to do what you love, and most importantly, not to flush your talent down the toilet.