Our most inspirational women in watersports

Happy International Women's Day!

It's only fair that we use this opportunity to shout out some of our favourite women in watersports. From surfing to sailing, and kayaking to SUP - so many women have not only won multiple World championships and titles, but faced a fair few difficulties getting there too! We want to celebrate some of the women who inspire us to carry on doing the sport we love...

Surfing: Bethany Hamilton

Arguably the most well-known female surfer to have overcome misfortune, Bethany Hamilton is an inspiration to surfers worldwide. Born in Hawaii to surfing enthusiasts, Bethany grew up with “salt water in her veins.” After winning various competitions and a Rip Curl sponsorship, tragedy struck at the age of just 13. Hamilton went out to Tunnels Beach with friend and fellow surfer Alana Blanchard, and while waiting for a wave, was suddenly attacked by a tiger shark. She lost 70% of her blood that morning and her life, and dreams, were left on the line.

Despite losing her arm from just below the shoulder, Bethany was back in the water just 10 weeks after the incident. It wasn’t an easy ride, having to adapt to a new board and the sea with only one arm. But not long after, she was back to surfing competitively. The same year, she placed 5th at the National Surfing Championship and joined the US National Surfing Team after winning an ESPY award for “Best Comeback Athlete.” Bethany has since used her experience to inspire others worldwide. In 2004, she wrote the national bestseller, Soul Surfer, which was even adapted into a 2011 narrative film. A true hero who refused to let tragedy diminish her dreams of becoming a surfing champion, Bethany is an inspiration to every surfer to follow their dreams.

Sailing: Dee Caffari MBE

Dee Caffari has sailed around the world a jaw-dropping six times! She is the first woman to have sailed single-handed and non-stop around the world in both directions, and the only woman to have sailed non-stop around the world a total of three times. In 2006, Dee was awarded an MBE after becoming the first woman to sail solo, non-stop, around the world against the prevailing winds and currents. And it doesn’t stop there. Dee’s commitment to sailing is equally as prevalent as her passion for environmental action. In the 2017/18 Volvo Ocean Race, she led the first mixed-gender youth team under, ‘Turn the Tide on Plastic,’ whilst heavily promoting the message of sustainability under the UN’s Environment initiative. Dee has extensive involvement in many environmental organisations. She is Chair of the World Sailing Trust, a new global charity that promotes a healthy ocean and inspires wider participation from sailors to protect its future. As well as this, Dee is on the advisory board of A Plastic Planet – whose single goal is to dramatically reduce the use of conventional plastic.

Kayaking: Anna Hemmings MBE

Anna’s sporting career was paved by a ‘come and try kayaking’ week at her local Canoe club in the summer holidays, which led her to join the club before she'd hit her teens. 2 years after winning her first European championships at the age of 20, she won her first World title and became the first and only British female to become World champion in marathon kayak racing. Throughout her career, she has since won a staggering 11 World and European Championship titles and competed in the 2000 and 2008 Olympics. Despite this, her career has not been without challenges. In 2003, Anna was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome and was told by medical experts that she may never race again. Her determination to overcome this pushed her to make a full recovery and return to the sport two years later. Since doing so, she has won a further 3 world titles, been awarded an MBE, and built a reputation as a motivational speaker, inspiring audiences with her tale of triumph over adversity.

SUP: Annabelle Anderson

ranked Number 1 in the Women’s SUP Racer World Rankings for six consecutive years, New Zealand born Annabelle Anderson is a forced to be reckoned with. Since 2012, she’s had a consistent presence on the podium while racing as one of the few “free agents” in Stand-Up Paddleboarding. Like Kelly Slater for surfers, Annabelle’s become synonymous with the sport. Like many athletes though, her career hasn’t come without obstacles. Before the age of 24, Annabelle had endured no less than 11 major surgeries to her legs. Despite this, her resilience to continue excelling at SUP and chasing adventure has allowed her to battle adversity. Annabelle has used her platform as a professional athlete to raise awareness for breast cancer while working as a global ambassador for Stand Up For The Cure. Even after a horrific ski accident last year forced her to take a rare break from the fast-paced sport, we definitely haven’t seen the last of the SUP champion yet…

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Published on 7th March 2019 in Kayaking

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