For someone who doesn't know anything about the world of surfers, Surf Girls Hawai'i came across as an exciting lesson. It's inspiring and educational. The surfers look marvelous when they ride the waves in the water. Their athletic bodies gleam and fill you with wonder. You are awestruck by their physical capabilities and find their mental strength incredible. The surfers don't always manage to ride the waves or win a competition, but what's so impressive about them is their willingness to go back into the water. They genuinely believe that tomorrow can be better.
Surf Girls Hawai'i consists of four episodes, and each one of them focuses on a different competition. In one episode, the girls are seen at the Hale'iwa match, and in the next, you will find them going against the Pipeline waves. The North Shore (Oahu), we are told, is the mecca for surfers. One of the surfers describes surfing as therapy, though that doesn't mean being a surfer is easy. Like any other athlete, a surfer follows a grueling schedule to keep his/her body fit. One of the workouts we see in the documentary has the girls holding stones and running underwater.
There is so much pressure to be on the top, especially when someone from your family is a renowned surfer or if you were a winner in a previous competition. Moanalani Jones Wong admits that she is sometimes stressed since she has won the title of the Queen of Pipeline. She expects herself to give mind-blowing performances to prove that she deserves such high honor. Pua DeSoto initially says, "Pressure makes diamonds," and later confesses that she's not enjoying surfing due to physical and mental strain.
Surf Girls Hawai'i isn't afraid of showing its subjects as vulnerable. It is definitely not one of those documentaries only concerned about showing the "best moments." The series observes the surfers as unshielded humans who get injured and lose out on crucial tournaments. There are no last-minute wins or miracles. Maluhia Kinimaka is hit with a knee injury and, as a result, is unable to take part in various events. Another surfer continues waiting for that one wave, but it never arrives. Hence, she comes out defeated, scoring zero points.
We are also told that sponsors are essential in this sport. Without a sponsor, being a professional surfer is almost impossible. A sticker on your surfboard opens many doors. You need to earn that sticker through commendable performance. Every surfer derives strength from their own sources. What makes someone like Brianna Cope stronger is her ugly experience. Apparently, she was bullied in school because of her two tiny fingers. But those fingers don't stop Brianna from making a name for herself. In fact, all the female surfers here don't let failure significantly affect them. They celebrate their victories with a smile and handle their losses with a certain level of calmness and optimism regarding the future. Brianna, Maluhia, Pua, Moana, and Ewe Wong are friends on land and contenders on water. Most importantly, they support each other. How can their friendship not be infectious?
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