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Monday, October 19, 2015


This book may well serve as a useful tool in the field of motivational speaking. (Review by Keith Millar)

Big-wave surfing is not an activity which receives much publicity in South Africa. In fact, unless you are a reader of surfing magazines you may not know anything about the sport at all. Yet South Africans surfers are very active in this sport and a few have enjoyed considerable success at it over the years.

One of these is Chris Bertish, author of the autobiographical surfing epic Stoked.He won the blue ribbon event of big-wave surfing, the Mavericks Big Wave Invitational, in 2010 riding the biggest waves ever recorded at the event. He also went on to come third in the Big Wave World Tour that year, despite surfing only three of the five events.

Bertish lives by the mantra – “Dream it, See it. Believe it. Achieve it”. He is a rather unique, single- minded and determined character. He tackles life with a steely resolve and an honest belief that anything is possible as long you work hard enough to achieve it.

Now, one would imagine that these characteristics, along with a good dollop of natural talent, are a pre-requisite for any sportsman to achieve the pinnacle of their chosen field. I imagine that even those in the performing arts would benefit by these attributes.

However, what singles out Bertish, and for that matter the others of his big-wave surfing brotherhood, from the rest is that they face the very real possibility of death every time they indulge in their sport. They travel the world looking for the biggest, most powerful waves to ride - waves that can kill them if they make even even the slight miscalculation. The waves at Mavericks, in Northern California, in 2010 when Bertish won the competition, measured up 20 metres in height – the same height as a four-story building - and broke with an estimated force of 500 tons.

Bravery or foolishness? You judge for yourself.

Bertish’s writing style is much like the character he portrays himself to be. Relentless, intense and rather pedantic. There is not much of the lighter side of life in the book. It mostly describes catching monster waves, falling off, nearly drowning, and then offering motivational slogans based on what he has learnt from the experience.

This is a pity as Bertish has achieved much in a life of travel and adventure. Unfortunately, he glosses over these events and concentrates very much on his surfing.

Bertish is a motivational speaker and this book may well serve as a useful tool in that field of endeavour as it is filled with motivational quotes and slogans to assist and encourage the reader to believe in their dreams and to succeed against all odds.

Stoked will be enjoyed by surfers and those knowledgeable about the sport. They hopefully will be able to understand the lingo of the sport which is used so liberally throughout the book and which left me somewhat confused at times. Stoked is published by Zebra Press. The ISBN is 978 1764 4 (print). Suggested retail price R230. – Keith Millar