I’ve never been one to follow pop celebrities, nor do I like surf dramas. The combination is often simple and cliché, but when I saw the preview for Helen Hunt’s new movie RIDE, I thought this could be different, even important. So I took time out and watched it opening day.
Written, directed, and starring Helen Hunt, RIDE is a reverse coming-of-age story about a woman finding her way back to the girl inside by experiencing the simple, but profound act of playing in the ocean.
When I saw her story on screen, I thought, ”I know this woman!” I’ve met her a hundred times at Las Olas. She’s a brave and protective working mom who cares as much about her family as she does her career and her own place in the world. A born caretaker, she does everything for everyone, but somewhere in the process of growing up, she’s lost the joy, freedom, and ease that used to be her natural state.
The fact that the story is playing out on the big screen now, delivered by an Academy Award winner like Helen, underscores the big, welcome wave I’ve seen coming in now for almost two decades.
And that wave is: Women really want to surf! Maybe they sense how much they need the ocean—something bigger than themselves that awakens the girl inside. Perhaps, like good caretakers, they feel how much the ocean needs protection. Like all women, the ocean is powerful, yet vulnerable. Vast, yet fragile. What emerges from this partnership is a sense of belonging to the waves and the strong, natural will to protect them.
Helen Hunt didn’t make this movie about a woman and her connection to the ocean on a whim. It’s the latest of her on and off-screen leadership for women and for the ocean. She takes acting roles that lift women up and, like any passionate surfer girl, she’s partnered with efforts that work to preserve our seas.
When I think about the rising energy behind women’s empowerment and the environmental perils facing the sea, I understand the surge in the women’s surf community. RIDE makes sense to me at just the right time.
So I highly recommend that you catch RIDE this Mother’s Day. I think Helen’s onto something.
See you in the waves,
Las Olas partnered with RIDE to treat two Las Olas alumnae to the NYC premier. I asked each what they thought.
Ann Marie, Las Olas Alum 2013
“Mindfulness and determination. The two words that come to mind after I watched the movie RIDE. It was a story about a mom, a son, a challenging sport, realizing priorities, what is important in life, and just how short life really is. I took my own surf safari so to speak for my 50th birthday. I imagined myself as one of those in-shape, tanned surfers inside the Athleta catalog… ten plus years ago.
“Like Bert in Mary Poppins, I would imagine myself jumping into the page like he did with Mary and the festival thus making it come alive in full color. And that is exactly what I did with Las Olas Surf Camp for Women in the fall of 2013.
“If you aren’t ‘in the moment’ you really never catch that wave. It is a sport that forces you to do this, thus carrying over to other aspects of your life. It can be rough learning, as Helen attested to in the Q&A I attended at the NYC release. You get tossed, your arms are dying, you’d better be in good shape… but once you are up… the goal is met and it becomes a path of success that can lead to future successes.
“As a mom and a surfer, I have always loved to play in the water. Surfing was the ultimate playtime and the movie RIDE showcases that through a thoughtful, humorous storyline.”
View Ann Marie’s video of Helen’s Q & A here.
Linda, four-time Las Olas Alum, beginning April 1999
“What I loved about the movie was the way the beginner is depicted. You think you’re an athlete, you think you’re capable, and then you meet the ocean and are humbled. (How many of us were flipped feet over head paddling out?!) I still remember my first time—I walked out just like Helen Hunt’s character—and was immediately knocked down.
“The great thing about surfing is the people. While my ineptitude gave a number of observers a few great laughs, others came over and offered help.
“That spirit of encouragement is something that helps all of us through the moments of learning to surf when we feel we just can’t do it. There’s nothing like a cheering section (something you get at Las Olas) when all of the suggestions and lessons come together and you have a great ride. Hunt captures the learning curve of the sport and juxtaposes it against her life to create her narrative metaphor—we see her character evolve with her surfing as many of us do. It is such a great sport—fun, addictive, and always challenging.
“Every day I surf, I learn more about myself and that is what RIDE illustrates.”
RIDE opens in theaters May 2015 or available for rent on iTunes now.
Check out the trailer here: RIDE
Bev Sanders is founder and president of Las Olas Surf Safaris for Women and editor-in-chief of Jennifer’s Journey, the online travel portal for women adventurers. She started surfing at 44 continuing her lifelong pursuit of introducing women to sports. You’ll find her and husband Chris on the beach in Mexico throughout the surf season.