Keala Kennelly has proved time and time again that she is not only one of the toughest female surfers in the world, but one of the toughest surfers period. She was the first woman to tow into Teahupo'o and returned there just a few weeks ago to take on a historic swell that will be the subject of countless surf tales in the future.
She took one of the most intense wipeouts that day and lived to tell about it. Keala is back at home, in Hawaii recovering and waiting on Winter to roll around and bring the swell to the North Shore. Here is a photo just before the wipeout. To see more photos be sure to check out Keala's Facebook.
Surfline caught up with Keala to get her thoughts on the day.
You got some insane rides during the tow session. Maybe the heaviest day ever at Teahupo'o. Did you get the best wave of your life?
Hard to say, there was one barrel that I was really pleased with. I was pretty deep and the barrel started bending so hard on the reef. I started to feel the front of my board lifting up (from the lip exploding white-wash up into the barrel). I got heavy on my back foot and started rolling up the windows on the car as if I was going to fall backward into the barrel. So I shifted all my weight back on to my front foot, held my line and got spit out of the barrel. I was really stoked (and relieved) to make it out of that one.
Were you shocked that you ended up getting injured on a much smaller day?
Shocking for sure. It was not something I was expecting to happen that day but in all honesty, some of my worst injuries at Teahupo'o have happened on smaller days. In 2005 when I towed Teahupo'o for the first time I had no problems and then two days later in a heat it was small and kind of choppy and I got stuck trying to kick out on the west bowl, got sucked over and smashed the back of my head into the reef and had to get staples.
What was the vibe like being in the water with Bruce and the crew?
I felt really honored that Bruce invited me to come surf with him to honor Andy. Those boys are like brothers to me and I love them so much. The vibe in the water was kind of heavy you know. Bruce was feeling the loss of his brother big time and he had all eyes on him. It must be so hard to be mourning in the public eye like that. I really felt for him in that moment. I hate to see someone I care about so much suffering like that.
Was this your worst wipeout of your life?
This could be the worst wipeout of my life but it didn't feel that way when it was happening. It seemed like a very typical wipeout and I was completely shocked when I saw the damage that was done. Total freak accident really.
How long are you out of the water and how is your recovery going?
Now I am back in Hawaii and my recovery is going well. I have an appointment to get my stitches out today so I am really looking forward to that. I should be back in the water just in time for the first North Shore winter swells.
Check out the full interview here.