I was born in Uitenhage, a small town in South Africa.
During the week I read and rode my bike.
On weekends my family loved to visit the ocean, about an hour's drive away.
When I was 15, my parents bought a beach house right on the ocean at Seaview, Port Elizabeth, and that's where I learned to love swimming, riding waves and just looking at waves.
I attended Terblanche, commercial college in Port Elizabeth. I wanted to be a journalist, or a teacher.
I taught in a South African mission school for a year and then left there to travel to Europe and work in Australia and New Guinea.
While in Australia, I met and married an American, Will, and we have 2 daughters, Juliet and Caroline, and a son, Adam.
We moved to Hawaii and have a house on the ocean where we have lived for the last 18 years. Its about 15 minutes from Waikiki Beach. I first saw Duke's photo at the Duke Kahanamoku Outrigger restaurant on Waikiki Beach, (The restaurant is named after Duke and has great photos of him.)
I really loved his face - he looked so nice, and had such a great big welcoming smile.
I started researching his story and learned how he struggled to achieve his goal as a great swimmer.
It was so inspiring that I decided to write a book about him.
I spoke to many Hawaiian big wave surfers to learn how if felt to ride waves like mountains.
I traveled to Australia to Freshwater Beach and visited Duke's statue on a rock there, overlooking Freshwater beach where he showed the Australians what surfing was all about.
He is depicted riding a surfboard - the rock looks a bit like a curved wave.
Its great. The small museum there has the long surfboard Duke rode - its insured for $1 million.
This beach was near where I had once lived in Australia, before I knew about Duke, so it was really fun to visit it once I knew all about him and to speak to the surfers there who still really admired him after all these years.
This link should take you to a live camera on the Duke statue at Waikiki Beach where Duke surfed. Live Camera of the Duke Statue in Waikiki This link should take you to a live camera on the Duke statue at Waikiki Beach where Duke surfed.
Aloha ... Ellie