This morning the WSL announced that Bethany Hamilton will be heading to Slater’s Surf Ranch come September to compete in the Surf Ranch Pro. The event will mark Hamilton’s first competitive showing since giving birth to her second child back in March of this year.
“We’re thrilled that Bethany has been awarded the wildcard for this historic event,” said WSL CEO Sophie Goldschmidt in a press release. “She’s both a world-class surfer and an inspirational woman and we can’t wait to see her performance at the Surf Ranch.”
Inspirational, indeed. Hamilton, of course, became arguably the most famous surfer on the planet after she survived a shark attack that resulted in the loss of her left arm, and continued to set herself apart as one of the best female surfers on the planet (read our full profile on Hamilton here). The WSL has been hurling wildcards her way for years, most of which she’s turned down (book deals, movie deals, speaking engagements and raising a family don’t leave much time for donning a jersey). But you probably remember her 2016 Fiji Pro performance, when she smashed much of the field–including future world champ Tyler Wright–on her way to a semifinal finish.
Hamilton’s penchant for power hacks and tube rides suit Fiji just fine, but how will she do in the pool, you ask? Well, there’s ample evidence that she’s an absolute ace in freshwater fare as well. She was one of the early test pilots that got a crack at the Surf Ranch, returned to Kelly’s wave in June (see footage above, released today, and prepare to have your mind thoroughly blown), just enjoyed a run of Waves in Waco at the BSR Surf Resort, and, according to the press release, is already back in Lemoore for another go. In fact, behind Slater, she might be the most-experienced pool surfer around.
“I’m so excited to be competing at the Surf Ranch Pro,” Hamilton said in the release. “I love the idea of competing in a semi-controlled environment. It’s great to know what I’m getting with the waves and to be on the same playing field as everyone else. All of us girls are just going to be going to town, shredding it.”