HIGH TIDE, SURF’S UP

BY Julian Yap Joe Nin

She stuck it out to her Olympian dad by calling him “pretty fat”.

Yeah, you heard me.

That’s a pretty ballsy move, ‘fat-shaming’ her dad on national television.

Her ‘OLYMPIAN’ dad, Justin Norris.

An Australian butterfly and individual medley swimmer who won the bronze medal in the 200-metre butterfly back in the 2000 Summer Olympic Games in Sydney.

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Australian’s Justin Norris winning bronze medal in the Men’s 200m Butterfly Final during the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games // Getty Images

And of course, his athletic genes passed onto his daughter.

Now, she has become a child prodigy – at the age of 11, she has become the youngest surfer to ever compete in a major Australian event, the Sydney International Women’s Pro at Cronulla Beach.

I’m talking about the one and only, Sabre Norris.

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Sabre Norris, 11 (on the left) and her younger sister, Sockie, 9 (on the right) // The Daily Telegraph Australia
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Sabre Norris completing her surf at Cronulla Beach, Australia // The Daily Telegraph Australia

Norris was chosen as a ‘wildcard’ by Aussie surfing champion, Sally Fitzgibbons to compete in the event and ended up in the 25th position out of 100 surfers of all ages.

She won $500 in prize money – that’s a LOT for someone her age.

May I just remind you that she’s only 11 years old?

At 11, I was still probably learning how to walk or form a full sentence.

It’s totally bonkers how amazing and talented she is.

Don’t believe me? Take a look from 2:27 onwards. 

Good old Ellen. Yeah. Big mic drop.

Those flips, turns and spins in that high tide- EPIC.

You just can’t deny how effortless that surf was. To me, Norris didn’t even have to try. It was just a piece of cake to her.

That wave might as well be a tsunami to me where I say my goodbyes to everyone who’s ever known me.

Trailing back to Australia last year, I went skydiving as am sure many of you know from reading my previous blog post ‘Up In The Air’.

In 2015, before my sister and I ever thought about going skydiving, we both attempted to go surfing on Christmas Day but no one was teaching during that holiday.

So instead, we ended up spending Christmas at Bondi Beach, which could not have been a better idea.

It was magical – from its sparkling blue waters to the endless amounts of sunshine to the scorching heat and the Christmas spirit amongst all the beach goers.

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Bondi Beach in Sydney, Australia on Christmas Day

But there was a problem – I was afraid to take my shirt off.

Have you seen Australians?

Almost all, if not every single one of them are intimidatingly attractive – the perfect hair, tanned skin tone, heavenly faces, sculpted and toned bodies that looked like Greek Gods and Goddesses.

AND that accent of theirs – such a bloody turn on after the British one.

They’re perfection really.

Wonder what that looks like? You don’t have to go far.

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The Stenmark twins, Jordan and Zac shooting with Miranda Kerr for David Jones // Instagram
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The Stenmark twins with Miranda Kerr at the 2013 David Jones show // Instagram

Yeah. Aussies. Just get out of my face already.

This is just the tip of the iceberg.

Another thing.

I really do love the water but honestly, I am terrified of high breaking waves.

Am such a pussy.

Even if I believed I could, I just would not be able to do what Norris does.

Like Norris, the Stenmark twins surf too – just probably not as good as her.

The Stenmark twins surfing it up on the beach // Instagram

I would be way too scared to even lift myself up on the surfboard nor even look at the incoming waves approaching me that are way taller than I am.

I’d choose skydiving over surfing any day.

Many would probably think I’ve gone nuts – surfing’s less of an extreme sport compared to skydiving or even bungee jumping.

Sorry Norris.

In all seriousness, Norris is legit, the REAL DEAL – she has been deemed by many key surf industry professionals and personalities as the next big thing.

Need more validation?

She is being mentored by the best of the best – Fitzgibbons and the one, the only, MICK FANNING.

Aussie surfing champion of the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) World Tour in 2007, 2009 and 2013.

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Sabre Norris with MMA Champion Luke Rockhold, Mick Fanning and photographer Corey Wilson (from left to right) // Instagram

He even gave her some words of encouragement.

“He always tells me to have fun. Otherwise I won’t want to do it when I’m older. I really appreciate him,”- Norris said in an interview with the Newcastle Herald.

Aside from excelling in the water and his insanely good looks and physique, Fanning is also known for something else that happened to him.

In 2015, he survived a shark attack (supposedly, a great white shark) during the J-Bay Open finals in Jeffreys Bay, South Africa.

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Australia’s Mick Fanning and his close encounter with a presumed great white shark // National Geographic

Another reason why I am afraid of surfing in the deep, open waters – sharks or even jellyfish.

Emily Blunt has the same fear as I do. Watch her on Ellen.

At least, I’m not alone in this.

During the attack, the shark hit Fanning’s surfboard pretty hard.

Fanning reacted by placing his surfboard in between the shark and himself, obstructing the shark’s lethal mouth to harm him in any way.

He then struck the shark by hitting it in the back.

Experts say that the best thing to do if you encounter a shark is to punch it really hard – aim for the nose, eyes or if possible, the gills, which are extremely sensitive.

This is hell of a risky move especially, if you miss.

I am already afraid of sharks, let alone, being approached by one.

Making physical contact with it – in your fucking wildest dreams.

Unlike Fanning who looked incredibly calm in the situation, I would have just completely panicked and froze.

Within seconds, rescuers in jet skis picked him up.

He was totally unharmed and came out of this attack, injury-free.

What a lucky man!

Have a look. 

Those 7 minutes made you re-evaluate some of your life’s decisions yet?

That must have been such a gut-wrenching and riveting experience for Fanning in the worst possible way.

The trauma he’s endured is beyond indescribable and this attack will probably haunt him every time he steps foot near the water.

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Mick Fanning (in blue) consoled by fellow surfer Kelly Slater after surviving a shark attack // National Geographic

This picture of him really gets me.

The big question here is – will he ever get back in the water?

If I was him, I would not ever want to or it will take a long time for me to even step close to open water.

But, everyone including myself wants to see him back in the water – he’s too talented to let go of this sport.

We’re so selfish. Jokes.

This also reminded me of my flight back to London from Los Angeles last December – I watched the film, ‘The Shallows’ starring Blake Lively.

In the film, Lively plays a surfer who becomes stranded 200 yards from shore, and must use everything she knows to survive an attack from a great white shark.

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Blake Lively having to battle a great white shark in order to save her own life and return safely back to shore in ‘The Shallows’ // CBC News

This is just getting way too real for me.

As much as I want to learn surfing, since it looks so freaking cool and I’ll attract all the hottest chicks, it’s probably going to take a lot more to convince me than that to actually do this.

I’ll let you all know if I ever do.

If Norris is willing to teach me, maybe I will give it a go.

Speaking of Norris, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has now approved ‘skateboarding’ and ‘surfing’ to be featured as two of the many sports in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Norris would love to represent her proud country of Australia in the Games.

And you’d know what I think?

We’ll probably see this child prodigy on the podium getting one of the three coveted medals, if not, the Olympics gold medal.

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Sabre Norris hitting the waves in Sydney, Australia // The Daily Telegraph Australia

We’ll just have to wait and see.

Good Luck Sabre!

Cheers