It’s our own private church, our own private temple.
It just feels like you're being pulled home.
Its forces are so much bigger than us.
At some point you feel like you become part of it, not apart from it.
( water lapping gently )
Man: I was a good swimmer.
I was swimming in the ocean before I was five.
We just took a breath and looked down.
The water was glass clear.
The spires of light came down like a cathedral.
It was like in another world, and I never forgot it.
So I was hooked. I tell you, I was hooked.
Man: That was such a magic time for me as a kid.
I mean, I can’t even really describe it.
Woman: I just remember thinking it was so cool how weightless I was.
Man: Its forces are so much bigger than us.
Woman: At some point, you feel like you become
part of it, not apart from it.
Man: It’s like therapy for me when I have problems.
Man: For each of us, it’s our own private church,
our own private temple.
If I didn’t go diving, we didn’t have food.
I mean, really, that’s the truth.
So it was like pay a babysitter or take her with me.
Fishing and diving have been like the main activities
that my dad and I would do together since I was little,
and even when it became something where, like,
our family didn’t depend on it to put food on the table,
it was just always our favorite way of spending time together.
Yeah, hard to argue when you’re underwater, huh?
( both laugh )
Well, when she was little, you know,
she could only go down maybe six or seven feet, you know,
and I could dive, like, 50 feet.
And so she wanted to do everything I could do, you know,
as I think most kids do, and I just kept pressing
until it’s just about relaxing.
It always mesmerized me how my dad could dive deep
and just go-- go get these fish and hold his breath for so long.
And so I would just practice holding my breath.
I’d watch him go down,
and I would see if I could hold my breath on the surface.
There were definitely times where I would feel scared,
where I would realize how deep I was
and realize how small I felt,
and I would get freaked out, but the minute I saw my dad,
like, just the minute I just saw his silhouette in the distance,
I just knew I was safe.
I used to dive down and be at the bottom
and wave at her, and when she got in her 20s,
we went diving together and she--
we both swan down about 20 feet, and then she waved goodbye
and swam down another 50 or 60.
( laughs ) I couldn’t do it anymore.
Kimi: It was just an incredible world
to be introduced to.
It was a world where I could fly.
Just being able to watch all the fish down below me
and for once, I was the bird in this world.
Man: Kimi is best known for her spearfishing,
and what a lot of people don’t realize
is it takes an actual incredible amount of knowledge,
and there’s a lot of different variables.
There’s that physiological side, just trying to get your body
under control and actually almost rewire your body
in a lot of ways and take things
that are supposed to be involuntary reflexes
and being able to control them,
like getting your heart rate low
and actually changing the way that your body
distributes oxygen and blood.
Then you have to have the CO2 tolerance.
Kimi: As I take a drop,
I have to kind of break through
this first barrier of atmosphere,
but I get to this point where that buoyancy changes
and it becomes negatively buoyant,
and once that happens, I just start to sink,
and that was a feeling that, you know,
when I first started doing these deeper drops,
it kind of scared me because you feel like
you’re getting pulled, pulled somewhere
that you might not be ready to go yet.
But the more that I would surrender to it,
it just feels like--
it just feels like you’re being pulled home.
Mark: And then when you hit the bottom,
that’s when you start, you know,
looking at the chessboard.
You’re looking for, you know, cover.
You’re seeing what other small fish
that usually hang around something that you like,
or you see something-- a fish off in the distance
you want to target.
She has a way of acting like...
"I’m just another fish down here.
Don’t worry about me,"
until she brings her spear gun up and nails it.
Most of us are obvious humans down there.
Kimi: There is always mixed emotions that come with it.
There’s part of me that feels the victory of the catch,
the victory of securing this food,
and there’s another part of me that will always feel
compassion and a bit of sorrow for my prey.
I think that when she figured out
she could go out and feed herself,
that was a life-changing moment for her.
She was always a cook.
From like six years old, she wanted to cook,
and to go out and get the fish she wants to get
and then cook them, it just opened up
a whole new world for her.
Kimi: To me, there’s no better way to honor my catch
than to share it with others.
I mean, I can see it with in people.
It makes every single bite mean that much more to them
when I tell them how deep I had to dive
or what the ocean looked like or how many fish there were,
swimming through a cave
or the shark that almost took it,
whatever the case is, I know that
when I share that story, it becomes an experience.
It becomes something worth honoring.
I mean, I-- I’d never been really been,
like, afraid of sharks.
But I wouldn’t-- when I would see one,
I would just act like, you know, you’re over there.
I’m over here, I’m doing my on thing.
But I’d pull my fish in so they couldn’t get them.
And then if they’d come at me, I would push them away.
Well, Kimi, as soon as she sees one,
she’ll swim right towards it.
That’s-- I never got to that point, you know?
Kimi: When I first started spearfishing
on my own as an adult,
I would get pretty terrified if I saw shark.
I think slowly, I just started to get
more comfortable with them.
And then one day, I just remember
something changed in me where I was pulling in
a nice fish that I was gonna bring home for dinner,
and this big shark came up to take it,
and I just swam faster towards my catch,
pulled it in faster, closer to me,
everything that was bringing this shark much closer to me,
but I got my hands on it and just pulled in towards me
and swam at that shark just to tell it like,
"Not today, buddy, like, like go get your own dinner.
This one’s mine."
And the minute I did that, that shark took off.
And that just taught me a lot.
It taught me the energy I put out there,
the confidence and the courage that I show
in holding my ground, it’s gonna communicate
to the sharks what kind of animal I am.
She’s miles ahead of where I ever dreamed of being.
I mean, you hear people say,
"Oh, you taught her how to dive."
I couldn’t teach her how to do what she does.
That’s just nuts.
All I take credit for
is I got her comfortable in the water,
and that’s really it.
Kimi: When you’re underwater, there’s no street signs.
There’s no way telling you which way to turn
or which way to go, but in the same respect,
the signs are everywhere.
Everything all of a sudden just goes quiet,
and now that it’s quiet, I open my eyes,
and all I hear is my dad’s voice saying,
"Just relax and remember how to swim."
Man: I love it.
I don’t know how to describe it.
It’s really scary but so good at the same time.
And that’s why I do it.
( speaking native language )
Man: You have to be in the ocean.
Whatever you do, it has to be ocean-related.
sooner or later, it’s surfing.
( man speaking native language )
Matahi: Waves from underwater, it’s totally different.
It looks really nice, like friendly.
You think it’s not really power,
but once you get in it,
it just bring you straight on the reef.
Man: Coming from Hawaii, I’ve surfed some pipeline,
I’ve surfed some heavy waves here,
but the difference in Tahiti and the wave
is how much more perfect it is
than any other wave I’ve ever seen.
The thing was just surreal looking,
and it looked like it would kill you if you fell.
Matahi: My grandfather, my dad always told me
to be humble in the water.
First you have to show respect to nature and the ocean.
When I go surf, I always make sure
I’m 100% with good health,
and especially when there’s big waves.
I mean, it’s razor-sharp reef.
If you fall, you’re gonna get cut to shit.
Bjorn: I like surfing,
Mostly the fun part, like six feet,
you know, like, it’s fun.
There’s some danger but minimal.
It’s a different thing.
And you see your kids on much bigger waves.
Uh, I feel like sometime
like I’m not doing my job as a parent.
Surfing big waves,
it’s more like waiting the big swell,
sometime they come, sometime they don’t,
and the stress is always there.
You go check the waves, and you know
it’s gonna get bigger, and there’s always that thing
in your mind telling you, oh,
you’re gonna have to go for the big one.
I don’t know, that’s how I think every time,
every time right before I sleep.
Kohl: If you know it’s gonna big the night before,
you’re not sleeping much unless you’re good at sleeping.
It feels like the whole ocean is sucking up
and the sea level’s changing.
When it’s on...
there’s nothing like it.
And here’s this local kid, Matahi, surfing this wave
better or as good as anybody else in the world.
Two years ago when I was 16, tried to tell us to not surf.
We didn’t listen, and we went surfing,
and that was the best day of my life.
( crowd cheering )
So big and so massive and so effed up...
just kind of blew everyone’s minds.
To this date, that’s, in my mind,
gotta be the biggest wave anyone’s ever ridden out there.
I didn’t realize how big it was, like, at the moment.
I made the drop.
Uh, for a moment, I thought I was gonna die,
but that’s when you feel so alive.
Bjorn: Didn’t really feel uncomfortable.
Sometimes you feel like you’re just melting
in your boat watching them. ( laughs )
I really think, like, if you tried to go
at least one time of day to the ocean,
it makes you-- your life better.
Every time I come back and after good session,
even a bad session, I am always feel better.
Woman: I played piano for a while
and it’s like you learn chord structure
and you learn moving your fingers up and down,
and you learn all that stuff,
and then there’s a moment where you actually get to play.
And swimming is like playing.
And you don’t know what the music’s gonna be
until you’re out there.
She-- she represents doing things at the limit
of human achievement, like what--
people say, "Why would you swim in Antarctica?"
She’s been studied in the past and has been shown
to have a remarkable adaptation.
Lynn: The scientists figured out that I’m able to close
the blood flow to the peripheral area of my body
really quickly and take that blood and put it into my core.
We were able to confirm that she can maintain
stable body temperature with her head out of the water
and in water temperatures as low as 44 Fahrenheit.
We’ve got one other person that we know can do that.
Lynn: I swam the English Channel when I was 15
and 16 years old from England to France,
and I broke the men’s and women’s world record each time.
I was the first person to swim across the Straits of Magellan
at the tip of South America, Chile.
I was the first person to swim around
the Cape of Good Hope from the Atlantic
around to the Indian Ocean.
First woman to swim from the North Island
to the South Island across Cook Straits, New Zealand.
My folks started us swimming when we were so young,
and it was something we did before we could even walk.
Coach Garbrill noticed right away
that at the end of the workout when everyone else was tired,
I was just picking up my pace.
I heard about a group of kids that were gonna swim
across the Catalina channel,
so I thought maybe if I can swim Catalina
with them that I can maybe do the English Channel.
There were times throughout the swim
where it hurt so much and I wondered if I’d make it,
but after I succeeded on that swim
I just knew that I wanted to do it more.
It was where everything began.
In open-water swimming, because you don’t have a wall
that you have to push off of, you don’t have to worry.
You’re even more disconnected from the world
and even more internal.
I’ve always loved just to go in the ocean
because I think that the quiet of being in the water,
just you are suddenly in your own think tank,
and you can let in whatever noise you want or not.
I think that one of the coolest parts of being in the ocean
is being able to swim through a changing sea,
a place where you can feel all the energy surrounding you.
It’s a place where there are no limits
so it makes you think big.
A California woman has managed
to cross the gap between the United States
and the Soviet Union quite literally.
Lynne Cox, an endurance swimmer from California,
today became the first person ever to swim
across the Bering Strait from Alaska to the Soviet Union.
The water temperature was 39 degrees.
( speaking Russian )
( applause )
You know, and it’s beautiful and it’s hard,
and you want to stop,
and you have people on board the boat
that urge you on and keep you going
because it may change the way the United States
and Soviet Union deal with each other,
and maybe we’ll be able to see each other as neighbors
and not as enemies.
No matter where I go in the world,
going into the water I feel like I’m at home.
I could be anywhere anytime the day or night,
it’s like I’m home.
Man: I’m imagining I’m bringing someone, like,
almost who’s blind to the ocean.
It’s so powerful when I’m in the water
You just go where it kind of-- it pushes you to go.
It enhances all the power of ocean and--
from the deep water to almost bone dry in a second.
So it’s like an underwater mountain.
It’s so heavy. It’s so heavy, yeah.
I’d say it’s, like, eight feet.
That one looks really big.
Yeah, so, it’s gonna be on. And it’s a rising swell
So it’s gonna be certainly interesting, to say the least.
Photography kind of fell in my lap.
And that was through a workplace incident.
Employment options are pretty limited in this area.
Mining is a huge employer of everyone, really.
It’s not like you’re trapped,
but it’s just the well-worn path.
So you-- people follow it. You’re a miner for life.
You’re having rock falls.
You’re having gas-outs, explosions, crush injuries.
I just heard this sickening crunch.
And it was my knee. And I couldn’t walk.
I couldn’t drive, and then I realized
that I’m gonna get into a hole here.
So I bought a camera, you know, kind of started working out
the way that you can manipulate the image
to how you want it to be.
It felt so natural, and by the time
I’d been doing that for, say, eight weeks,
my physio recommended that I start swimming.
So I had a camera.
I was allowed to go in the ocean,
and I bought a water housing.
It was kind of a crazy purchase because, you know,
it’s like several thousand dollars and, you know,
you’re kind of trying to make ends meet
’cause you’re injured and you can’t really do much,
and it was single-handedly
the best decision I’ve made in my life.
The journey of photography for me
started as a surf photographer.
Phil: What really sets him apart for me
is that he went and shot the same places
at the same time as loads of different
other photographers, even myself included,
and we’d come away with something different.
As a photographer you notice that,
when someone’s got that eye
and they something that you didn’t see.
Whenever you put a surfer in frame in a surfing picture,
you have a literal portrayal of what’s happening there.
Take the surfer out,
and you’re gonna lose the reference point.
Rather than having a factual representation,
you kind of have a fictional one.
You don’t-- you come to it.
You bring things to it, and that’s where--
that’s what I find in Ray’s work.
He leaves a lot of space there
for people to bring things to his work.
Ray: The shot is the last thing in a chain of events.
It comes from looking at weather maps, wind,
tide, where the sun is gonna line up.
Sometimes I’ll plan a single shot for...
I quit coal mining, um...
nine months ago.
The reason I kind of held onto it for so long
because it offered like a financial safety net,
and it was a big scary thing to--
to turn my back on a weekly paycheck.
I rang my boss,
and I thanked him for having me,
and I told him that I’m not gonna go back to the mine.
I’m not gonna get my tools. I’m not gonna get my helmet.
I’m not gonna get...
I’m not gonna get anything.
I’m gonna leave that whole life there,
and I’m never going back.
And I’m gonna--
I’m gonna shoot photos of the ocean. ( chuckles )
Eddie: You know, I needed an escape when I was a kid.
It gave me this, like, amazing...
place to experience life.
I was raised by my mom,
and my mom always taught me to...
really, really share any joy that you have in your life.
I make it a point.
It’s kind of like my duty to do what I’m doing now.
He is exceptionally smart.
Over and beyond.
But he’s still 11 years old.
You see a woman like Grandma Shirley.
You know, she took in Anthony when he was six months old,
and you think about what the reasons were
for her to do that,
that hits me like an arrow in the heart.
I really don’t know what happened,
but I think my grandma knows.
Do you know?
Him and the mother got into it.
And what they-- they were separated,
and she was trying to get him and he wasn’t letting him go,
and she approached him in--
in an altercation.
And then after it was over with,
she called the police on him, and they took him.
And while he was there, he had an asthma attack,
and they didn’t go see about him.
And that’s where he passed.
In a cell on the floor by himself.
And that’s what happened to big Anthony.
Eddie: And if I can do anything, one thing to help that family,
you know, that’s why I do what I do.
She works really hard, huh?
Anthony: Works real hard to take care of me and grandpa Ray.
He can’t take get out of bed anymore.
I help him get his water, his pills,
- his drink, his food. - Yeah.
And I do all of that and my homework.
How’s your grades?
- My grades are great. - That’s what grandma said.
One A+, A-,
- and a regular A. - Wow.
A lot of our kids don’t have male figures in their lives
or certainly don’t have consistent male figures.
They don’t have a lot of people in their life who really,
you know, will say something and then will deliver.
You know, if Eddie promised to take you surfing,
he’s gonna take you surfing,
and he’ll do anything he can to make it happen.
- Anthony: Mr. Eddie. - Yeah.
So when you’re trying to turn the board,
- and they say to use the tail-- - Yeah, use the tail.
So you use the tail to steer it, too?
Yeah, you put your-- so you put...
You know, these kids, more so than most,
need that extra love, right?
Man: He’s really made a difference
in a lot of kids’ lives.
I got to Edgewood 17 years ago
When I got here, Eddie was already here.
I mean, I’ve seen kids sort of before and after
and that sense of connection to the ocean,
that sense of belonging
and that sense of sort of calm that comes over them
after they’ve been able to sort of master
or at least begin to master surfing is really incredible.
Eddie really knows how to connect with the kids
in ways that, say, their formal therapist
might not be able to
or their psychiatrist might not be able to.
I mean, we don’t turn down kids.
I really try not to turn down kids,
and it’s almost like my dream would be
to drive through the neighborhood with this van
just like, "Come on, let’s go," get the kids to go surfing.
These are kids who have had disruptive upbringings.
They live in really poor neighborhoods.
They are exposed to a lot of trauma,
trauma that comes from parents being incarcerated, drug use,
a lot of community violence.
So, you know, that really impacts
a lot of the kids’ behaviors and moods,
which is what we’re treating ’cause a lot of social skills
are worked on when you’re outside.
Most of the kids have never been to the beach,
not even seen the ocean.
I will often show up like, "All right, you guys.
Let’s do this. I know a lot of you can’t swim.
But we’re gonna be there with you.
You’re gonna put on a wetsuit.
If you want to play in the sand
and roll around and be comfortable
in the wetsuit for the first time, you can do that.
If you want to build sand castles, great.
If you want to boogie, right on.
Hand planes, body surf, if you want to go out the back,
and get some bombs, that’s you."
They can do whatever you want at the beach with us.
The sun’s on your face. The wind’s in your hair.
The ocean is at your feet, it’s incredible.
And it is very therapeutic.
Got a couple girls who have never surfed before,
never been in a wetsuit.
They’re having the time of their lives.
Girl: It’s nice when you get into the water.
You feel free.
Boy: I like surfing because it’s another thing I can do
in the day instead of sitting home or watching TV.
It’s fun, but it kind of hurts
when you get wiped out by the waves.
I feel like all of them are my best friend.
I can’t pick one.
Shana: We’re going from concrete jungle...
Here, the sky’s big.
There’s nothing really impeding your view.
No big ships, no bridges, no buildings, just gorgeous.
Brandon: It’s exhilarating. It’s a sense of freedom.
You know, it’s kind of a no-boundaries kind of area.
You can go as far as your mind will allow you to go.
You can kind of let go of all the stress,
things that you may experience
out of this type of environment.
It’s the same opportunity that I was given as a kid
that I want, and I hope
that when I share it with these kids
that it’s that escape.
It’s an escape from where your life is
and to be able to get away for whatever reason.
Allow these kids to get outside of their world
and experience something new, and surfing is the vehicle.
Dave: I don’t-- I don’t like to get too esoteric
when I’m talking about the surfing experience.
The idea that wavelengths stop
and the energy of a wave that’s traveled--
you know, started perhaps in solar winds
between the sun and Earth and then created pressure
above our atmosphere and then moved through--
the upper atmosphere down to create
downward pressure which makes the wind,
which the wind then makes enough pressure
to create waves and then we ride these waves
and that all stops there, um, is not something
that everyone thinks happens, that the wave
and the energy of the wave a stops at the shoreline.
Joel: It’s-- I mean, it’s his path.
You know, he’s taken his own way.
And it didn’t matter with him.
He was probably-- he was too talented.
I didn’t think it mattered which direction he was gonna go.
Even from a young age, I could see that surfing
is something that is intrinsic in living
an amazing and blessed and healthy, stoked life.
And that’s come from literally sitting with people
in their 60s and 70s who are still surfing
and have that crazy sparkle in their eye
and just saying "What up," and going,
"Hey, how’d you do that?"
Dick: Me and my wife walking on the beach one day,
and I said, "That’s Dave Rastovich surfing there."
So we stood there and watched him,
and he come out of the water and he was riding an EPS board
and he didn’t have a clue who I was, right?
So I said, "Nice board," and he was looking at us going,
"Who are these fucking idiots," you know? ( laughs )
And I said-- you know, talked to him, and he was--
you could see he was uncomfortable, right?
And he wanted to go home on his push bike,
And I said-- I said, "My name’s Dick van Straalen."
And he went, "What?" I said, "Yeah."
And I said, "Oh, hey, you want some boards?"
And he said, "Yes."
I said, "Well, just come round the factory tomorrow."
Next day, he come round to the factory
with his father, and that was the start of it.
He was 15. Now he’s 35, nearly 20 years.
I make surfboards that challenge people
so they think about themselves and think about
where they’re going in surfing, and Dave really liked that.
Every board I’ve ever made, I just challenge him.
Dave: One-fin, two-fin, three-thin, no-fin,
short, long, fat, flat, wide, skinny, you name it.
Just learning from elders
and those who have come before us
and you see that most stoked surfers
have diversity in their life.
and specifically diversity in the way they ride waves.
He took me under his wing when I was a 14-year-old
sort of wondering what I wanted to be doing
with surfing in life and, you know,
just forming my ideas around that.
Joel: Dave and I got picked up at the same time
and next thing you know,
we were kind of thick as thieves together,
and he was such a talented surfer
that we’d all kind of heard this kid from Bulli
who was an amazing tube rider.
People ask me who’s the best surfer you’ve ever surfed with,
and who’s the best you’ve ever seen surf?
And I think it’s him.
Dick: Everyone’s unique,
but it’s all got to do with your build.
Like, he’s got a very low center of gravity.
You look at his body. His legs are short.
He’s got a long upper thing. He’s got a concave chest.
That’s why he body surfs so well.
Joel: I remember when he said he was never gonna compete again
and then he was like, "This is it. I’m done.
I’m finished." And he was probably--
I guess he wasn’t one for competing.
I saw him having trouble way back in the early days with professional surfing.
I said, "You don’t really like doing this, do you?" He said, "No."
In surfing, it’s just a matter of opinion.
And I remember just as a little tacker
even going into surfing contests
and going out and having a blast
and feeling like, man, that was a really good time.
I really enjoyed that, coming in,
and then having someone say
"No, you’re a loser. You just lost,"
and then coming home and being bummed.
I remember feeling like what’s going on with this?
Like, I just spent a day at the beach.
And then, you know, when someone’s like,
"Man, you should be riding 3-fins and 6 feet of foam,"
and it’s like fuck you, there’s no way.
You got no right how to tell me how to surf
or how to experience the ocean.
My partner Lauren just has such a way with words
where she talks about meaningful play.
I really feel like that’s what surfing is.
It’s just this feeling of it being kind of pointless
in the same way art on the wall of your house
is not really serving any purpose, but, hey,
for some reason, it feels good to have art on the wall.
And surfing’s kind of the same, you know,
like, we’re not getting a meal or anything to show
at the end of writing a wave.
Any time in my life
where something challenging has happened,
it’s changed everything.
It’s soothed pains that are really real.
When my dad died, I just kept going to the ocean,
and it made a huge difference.
You know, so that’s why it’s not just play.
It’s not just this silly thing we go do.
It’s more meaningful than that.
Man: When you see the beauty of nature like that
like I did it, it was like out of a clear sky,
it just sticks with you for the rest of your life.
And I always refresh them in my mind
so I never forget them, those memories,
and I kind of relive a little bit of it.
( "Tallest Sky" Playing )
♪ Tallest sky I’ve ever felt ♪
♪ The tallest sky I’ve ever felt ♪
♪ Dreamt about the place that I’ve never been ♪
♪ Walked the line ♪
♪ Limb by limb ♪
♪ It’s the reason why I am ♪
♪ It’s the reason why I am ♪
♪ Tallest sky I’ve ever felt ♪
♪ The tallest sky I’ve ever felt ♪