Galway based doctor Katie McAnena has recently made history by becoming the world’s first woman to wind surf the Hawaiian wave “Jaws.”
The 26-year-old doctor who is on a gap year from medicine spent many hours last week at the Hawaiian island Maui, where waves can reach up o to 60 feet and are thought to be as unpredictable as a shark attack, thus earning the nickname “Jaws”.
Jaws attracts some of the best surfers and most fail to manoeuvre their board on it but Dr McAnena joins the legions of those who have. McAnena is a four time female windsurfing champion and was in Hawaii to train for the professional competitive season.
Remarking on the wave, she said: “I’ve been obsessed with this wave for the longest time, but I never believed in my wildest dreams that I’d be doing it, let alone so soon.”
The wave Jaws breaks below a steep cliff and many surfers use a jetski to use to the “tow-in” method to catch the wave. McAnena opted to catch the wave by jumping off a cliff base. Many male surfers jumped off the cliff base with her.
She continued, “As the day progressed and it hit noon, the conditions just seemed to get better, and so I grabbed my gear and went for it. I’ve no idea how big the wave break was, but I was very cautious and stayed on its shoulder. There were big gaps in the swell, so I timed it and it just seemed right.”
Finn Mullen, an Irish windsurfing champion who surfed Jaws three years ago and again this year on his stand-up paddle board, said McAnena’s achievement was extraordinary. He commented, “Like Aileen’s off Clare and Mullaghmore, Co Sligo, there are only a few of these wave breaks in the world.”
Due to there being no records of women having surfed Jaws in the past, McAnena and New Caledonian windsurfer Sarah Delaunay stand to be the first women.
McAnena summed up the experience, “The sound and the feeling of it going through my bones was extraordinary, an out-of-body experience.”