Sydney Morning herald Article - My Hero, Layne Beachley, 2003
January 29, 2014

Layne Beachley, Surfing world champion

"Back in 1995, I watched Munga Barry catch a huge wave at Sunset Beach in Hawaii," Beachley says. "It made such an impression that I have a photograph of it

in the loungeroom of my home in Sydney."

At the time, she had only been on the professional circuit "a couple of years" and the Gold Coast-born Barry was one of her mentors. She'd been shopping in Waikiki and came onto the deck of the house she rented with some other surfers when she saw him tackle a ferocious wave.

"I'd grown a huge affection for Sunset because of its unpredictability," she says. "It's both a threat and a challenge. If you don't respect it, you get kicked in the arse.

"The swell was about four metres and the wave-face height about six to eight metres. The trade winds were howling offshore, which makes it very difficult to see because the wind picks up the nose of your board.

"As he paddled into the wave, his head was down and his eyes would have been shut. He was paddling by feel. Then he took off so late he seemed to defy gravity. I have no idea how he made the drop. He seemed to be free-falling. I know how hard it is to surf Sunset regardless of wind and swell direction. But when you've got those up against you, plus the pressure of competition, well, to make a wave of that critical nature is just remarkable.

"Watching him inspired me. It taught me to attempt the impossible - and to take off late at Sunset. It takes a lot more than physical ability to make a drop like that."