Fifty-year-old Mark Williams is a surfer, skier, and cinematographer. He is also a father who has the good fortune of sharing waves with his kids, Chase, eighteen, and Kyra, fourteen. He grew up in the South Bay, started surfing at age six. In the eighties he lived for a year on Australia’s Gold Coast (hence his daughter’s name). He met his wife, Katy Greene, a ski racer, in Aspen. So it began.
It’s about as good as anything could possibly be. My wife grew up in Aspen, so we’d go skiing when my kids were eighteen months old. Skiing encouraged the surfing. To me it’s just so great to share something I’ve been doing my whole life with them. Doesn’t get much better than paddling out with your kids at Cloudbreak.
Kyra’s the one waking me up at five-thirty, six in the morning to go surfing. She’s passionate about dragging me out into the water. Surfing is a big component of our lives. We’ve been doing an annual trip to Tavarua for six years now. Taking Chase out to Cloudbreak was really how he became a waterman. He grew up being a mature surfer, and his little sister has just followed in his footsteps.
Yeah, I never forced them into getting in the water. We live on the beach here in Manhattan. They’d see me going out. They started on boogie boards then graduated to big longboards. We’d do trips to Hawaii where we’d stay at the Moana Surfrider at Waikiki. We’d start by surfing tandem out there in the warm water, then sort of pushing them into their own waves. I can’t remember their first waves. But I do remember riding tandem with my daughter when she was five at Pine Trees on Kauai—a particularly big wave in fact.
Mark's daughter, Kyra Williams (14)
When they were learning, both of my kids were really calm in the water. Two years ago my daughter and I were out at Cloudbreak. It was low tide and one of those monster cleanup sets came through and this ten-foot high wall of whitewater, the lip came down like fifty feet in front of us, and Kyra looked at me, and I was like, “Okay, sweetheart, we know what to do here, we’re just going to relax.” We went down to the bottom and really got thrown around, and when we came up she was just smiling and laughing. Not long ago we were in Hawaii, surfing big Kawela Bay. It breaks way out there. A big cleanup, about an eighteen-foot wave, came and completely closed out the bay. She was on a 5’2”; I was on a 6’0”. I pushed her into a wave just before the cleanup hit us. She ended up pulling into a twelve-foot throaty barrel on her backside. She rode it all the way in to shore. It was the biggest barrel of her life. She was just unbelievably stoked.
To me it’s just hanging out with them, enjoying the moments together. Just the smiles you exchange. It’s really an unspoken thing. It’s much more than just going out and riding the waves.
The Dazzling Blue is a series of short pieces about things we do in boardshorts. It is written by Jamie Brisick. A Fulbright scholar and a lifelong surfer, Brisick has written several books about surf culture, including Have Board Will Travel: The Definitive History of Surf, Skate, and Snow and Becoming Westerly. He lives in NYC and rides a 5'10" Channel Islands Pod.