A true surfer girl to the core.
In her 60's Jeannie still has only one thing in mind: The search for the best wave in Waikiki Beach. Jeannie Chesser surfing for over 50 years, was U.S. champion – and lost her son in a fatal ride to the sea. The white tuft is noticeable with the surfers at Ala Moana Bowl. Jeannie is a petite lady with white short hair and usually snaps the best waves. She surfs very well and – unusual for her age – still with a short board.
She is one of the eldest women’s surfing in Hawaii and still can win competitions. But for Jeannie surfing is not just a sport, it keeps her alive. When she tells her story, one begins to understand why. The island of Oahu is the surfing mecca, even for the wave-drenched Hawaiian. They surfed for 30+ years in the bowl and can at times recall where they had the waves to themselves. Yet she does not think about quitting. “I would rather die on my board,” she says.“Surfing made me addicted” When Jeannie surfs, she only sees the crystal clear water, the rocks, Diamond Head and the surrounding sandy beaches.
Surfing and Hawaii experienced an absolute boom in the fifties. Almost ten years later Jeannie was immediately hooked. At that time she still lived in Miami and began surfing at age 14 with a friend – originally just to impress, to the nice surfer guys, she says, grinning. But her first love was not a teenager surfing, but the sea. “The water is my element. I quickly realized that surfing for me was not just a sport..." says Jeannie. After the death of her husband, the 22-year-old moved with her young son Todd to Hawaii, where life and surfing could be one.
Todd was surfing with his mother as a child, but favored a career as a BMX rider. Later he returned to the surfboard and was one of the best big-wave surfers in Hawaii. The large waves, are found on the North Shore of Oahu. “I’ve always been satisfied with smaller waves, but Todd was fascinated by the waves on the North Shore,” says Jeannie. “And he died in 1997 while surfing on the North Shore,” she adds. Her expression changed, and suddenly you see her in her 65 years. She throws herself into the waves every morning again. It is their way of dealing with the grief. Nowhere feels does she feel more connected with Todd.
Although the fate shook hard sometimes, she radiates contentment. Only when the weather is bad and they can not hope for waves, Jeannie is insufferable in his own words. "Surfing is your gateway to happiness".