At just nine years old, Sahara has been surfing since before she was born. Her mom, Las Olas surf coach Karla surfed while she was pregnant and has been sharing waves with her daughter from the time she was little. (You see where Sahara gets her style.)
This mother-daughter relationship is a very special one, but like the waves, and parenting, it’s ever changing.
Bev: At what age did Sahara start surfing?
Karla: I’d take her out on the boogie board when she was a baby, then onto the front of a soft top until she started surfing at six.
Did you surf when you were pregnant?
Yes, until I was seven months! I was surfing a foamy and had to contort a bit to paddle.
How do you think surfing influences Sahara’s development and self esteem?
Sahara surfs with a great group of friends. She’s capable and confident. If you can handle poundings, you can handle most things! Surf time gives her “her” time. Time to think, time to process thoughts, express herself, and laugh with friends. We have a great community filled with young girls who surf and surfing’s effect on them is so apparent. They exude freedom, fun, and above all, confidence!
What’s it like to surf with your daughter?
Really, we don’t surf together a lot now. I’d say it’s a lot like parenting. Sure, I’d love to say that it’s an amazing mother-daughter bonding experience, maybe in the long run it is, but surfing together can be as challenging as mother/daughter relationships. For example, when I want to advise her she gets really annoyed and wants to learn a lot on her own. But, she also wants me near, so I’ve learned to balance surfing with her and being there when she needs me, but not be overbearing. I guess that’s a lesson for parenting, too. She’s a strong paddler and gets under some well-overhead-for-her waves, and on them as well. She has a powerful surfing style and I love seeing her progress. I admit she doesn’t always want to go out. I bribe her with ice cream at times.
Our mother-daughter surf trip was one of the best things I’ve ever done. Combining surf with travel and experiencing other cultures really touched both of our hearts and that was definitely a bonding experience. I was really impressed with her capability in the water and on land. She is an amazing girl!
Bev: What do you like about surfing with your mom? How much fun is it?
Sahara: I like surfing with my mom because she won’t steal my waves, cut me off, or drop in on me. I think it’s fun surfing with my mom because, well, for pretty much the same reasons it wouldn’t be fun to surf with someone who cuts you off and steals your waves.
How often do you surf with your mom?
We surfed together in Tavarua, Fiji, but at home, not so much.
Does she let you cut her off?
I actually never have, but I’m sure she would.
Karla Saville is a massage therapist and owner of Kona Juice Company in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, where she lives with husband Tara and children Sahara and Konoa. Karla was part of the original Las Olas surf coach team and massage therapists back in 1998.
Sahara is in the third grade at Kahakai Elementary School in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.
Photo: Russell Hoover