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You wouldn’t think anyone could string the words Port Stanley, young girl, surfer, winner, surf competition and Nantucket together.
They just don’t fit. The most outrageous would be the words Port Stanley and surfer. Toss in winner and surf competition and your head would be spinning.
None of that seemed to matter to just-turned-14-year-old Kimmy Lang.
The Port Stanley resident entered a surfing competition in Nantucket, Mass., recently and won the 16-and-under category. She beat girls who’d travelled from as far as California to compete.
Oh, and she did it on her uncle’s board, which was too big for her, without a wetsuit and having been able to surf for only a few days after being off a board for almost a year.
The girls she was competing against brushed her off as a non-entity before the competition.
“When it was over it was, ‘You won, Kimmy? Wow, way to go,’ ” Lang said. “It was amazing to me too. I just entered for fun because everyone told me I didn’t have a chance to win anything.”
What Lang won was the Ozone Surf Classic — on a board called Canadian Bacon and Eggs. It was her first competition.
“It was hard to believe she won,” her father Chris Lang said.
To be clear, Kimmy didn’t learn to surf on Lake Erie off Port Stanley. The family has been living there for a little more than two years.
Lang was born and grew up in Singapore. She started surfing when she was seven. She surfed in Bali — only a $90 airfare from Singapore, Sri Lanka and Australia — a place the family would go on a long weekend.
“We would wake up every single morning and surf for hours,” Kimmy said.
When her father came back to Canada and settled in Port Stanley, the surfing was limited. Kimmy might be the only kid anywhere that hopes for bad weather.
“When a storm was coming, that’s when you go out to surf because the surf is up,” Chris said. “You don’t get a lot of big surf unless it’s windy.”
Kimmy didn’t plan on entering the Ozone Surf Classic. In fact, she didn’t know about it. She was visiting a cousin in Ottawa. The family decided to visit family in Nantucket.
“When we got down there, we found out there was a surfing competition the next day,” Kimmy said. “I thought I’d enter it for fun.”
Like many sports, an athlete needs some luck and she got it. She caught six waves including the first and last wave in the 15-minute time allotment.
“I just got up on the first one when the horn went to open the competition. Then I’d just got up on the last wave and the horn went off to end it,” she said. “My arms were so tired from paddling in and out.”
Once you are on a wave, you get to ride it out.
Kimmy was nervous but also enjoying the event, while veteran competitive surfers were intent on winning.
“When I was out there I saw a seal and was excited and said, ‘Hey guys, look at the seal.’ It was really cool,” she said. “They all looked at me like ‘We’re in a competition here.’ ”
Kimmy didn’t know how well she was doing until she had finished her third wave and found herself next to another surfer.
“I almost ran into another girl and she said “I haven’t caught a wave yet, I’m doing so bad,’ ” Kimmy recalls.
An hour after the competition was over, she heard the announcement she’d won.
“My family, everyone was looking at me like they couldn’t believe it and I thought, ‘Whaaatttt?”
Kimmy is no stranger to athletic competition though. She attends Ridley College in St. Catharines and is the captain of the basketball, soccer and volleyball teams.
Kimmy comes from a surfing family. Chris is a surfer and his father was an Australian and surfing was a big part of his life.
“When you’re on the board, it’s just like nothing else matters,” Chris said.
He wasn’t able to see his daughter compete because he was home in Port Stanley.
“I’m glad in a way I wasn’t there because I would have been too stressed,” he said. “I couldn’t believe it when she won. I was just hoping she’d catch one wave. It’s tough in a competition.”
Now the Langs face another problem. Kimmy always has loved to surf but her success has given her the bug.
“It was so much fun. It wasn’t just the competition. The whole day you were there,” she said. “We surfed for two hours then competed and surfed for another four hours. It was great.
“(The Ozone Classic organizers) asked me if I wanted to join the women’s competition to see how I would do, but I was really tired from my competition and I just couldn’t do it. My arms were sore.”
Father Chris now needs to find some way to feed the surfing monster and see how good his daughter can be. Waiting for bad weather in Port Stanley isn’t going to cut it.
“She’s young; she doesn’t drive. That’s why I was hoping she could hook up with some surfing buddies,” he said. “I have to find someplace for her to surf. We have to find out what her potential is. We have to figure something out.”
As for Kimmy, she loves the feel of mounting a big wave.
“It’s a different feeling,” she said. “You don’t think about anything. You are just having fun in the moment.”
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