Kerrie Houston Reightley has always been a woman of action. Three years ago, during a family holiday in Maui, Hawaii, she found herself drawn to the idea of learning to surf. The beautiful beaches, the shimmering waves – it was an opportunity she couldn’t resist. At 64 years old, she was ready for a new adventure.
A writer and substitute teacher by profession, Kerrie is no stranger to research and preparation. Determined to make her dream of surfing a reality, she returned to her hotel room and began watching instructional videos on how to surf. Balancing herself precariously on the bed, she practiced the motions and techniques. However, when she hit the water, she quickly realized that surfing was a whole different ballgame.
Despite her athletic prowess, which included spin classes, cross-training, rowing, and tennis, Kerrie found herself struggling to conquer the waves. The photographs from those initial attempts tell the story of countless wipeouts and “crashing and burning” moments. The surfboard seemed like an insurmountable challenge, yet her competitive spirit refused to accept defeat.
Growing up in the Seattle area, Kerrie’s father had been a significant influence on her athletic endeavors. A towering figure at 6ft 5in, he was a sports enthusiast who imparted his love for tennis to his children. Kerrie recalls fond memories of her father writing on his old Remington typewriter, and the family falling asleep to the rhythmic sound of his typing. Her father’s passion for writing and athleticism inspired her, and she carried that inspiration with her.
Kerrie’s initial failure to stand up on the surfboard weighed heavily on her determination. She felt an unwavering resolve to conquer the waves and vowed to return for a second attempt. A few months later, in Sayulita, Mexico, she faced the challenge once more, this time better prepared, both mentally and physically.
Choosing a location with shallower waters but faster waves, Kerrie took a proactive approach. She hired a private instructor and made sure there would be photographic evidence of her triumphant ride atop the surfboard. Not even a “beware of alligators” sign could deter her. She researched what to do in case of an alligator encounter, demonstrating her unwavering focus on overcoming obstacles.
As the waves came crashing in Sayulita, Kerrie learned valuable lessons from her instructor. She discovered the importance of protecting her head and falling backward rather than forward. With determination, she stood up on the surfboard, finally achieving her goal.
Kerrie Houston Reightley’s journey to learn to surf serves as an inspiring testament to the power of determination and resilience, proving that age is no barrier to embracing new challenges and conquering them.