HANALEI — Rain or shine, the Unstoppable poster signing and Rip Curl grand opening event carried on with over a 100 attendees talking excitedly amongst themselves as they huddled underneath tents and umbrellas Saturday afternoon. Bethany Hamilton and Alana Blanchard autographed posters to give away and took photos with fans who waited for them to arrive for nearly an hour, despite the weather. At one point the line stretched to number up to fifty people waiting for autographs, stretching across the grass fronting the stores of the Old Hanalei School building.
Charlie Cowden, Rip Curl store owner, passed out coupons to folks as they waited for Hamilton and Blanchard to arrive, encouraging them to shop while they wait. Between promises of discounts, signed posters, live music, fresh sushi and pupus it turned out to be a pretty good deal for all involved.
“I got a bracelet and a t-shirt, and I got a discount on everything I bought. It looks fantastic in there.” Ava Payne said after shopping in the new store. She was not discouraged one bit by the wait. She said she’s been a fan of Hamilton and Blanchard for some time.
“I’ve always liked to watch them surf, it’s amazing what they can do. I’ve seen Soul Surfer, and I’ve been following her (Hamilton) ever since.” Payne said.
Marie Boncompain, who recently moved to Kauai from France, was excited to meet Hamilton as well.
“After 4 weeks she had already gone back on the board, it’s really inspiring, and she seems to be a nice person, too.” Boncompain said.“I just moved here recently, from France, and we surf there during certain seasons. Some times are better than others for surfing. Now I live in Kapaa and I like to go to Donkey’s beach because it’s less crowded.”
A showing of the film “Unstoppable”, a documentary by Aaron Lieber, played Saturday night at Anaina Hou’s Porter Pavilion in Kilauea, following the signing event. On Hamilton’s website she says of the documentary about her life, and of the events following those in the movie Soul Surfer “I love soul surfer, but this is the real me.”
Through “Unstoppable” Hamilton hopes to inspire people to stop at nothing to achieve their dreams, and encourages individuals to find strength, courage, and determination through faith in God. “Unstoppable” follows Hamilton on her journey from a girl to a woman, and her achievements as an athlete and professional surfer and of course features excellent surfing footage. Showings of Unstoppable also played previously at Waimea Theatre on island.
Alana Blanchard and Bethany Hamilton are both sponsored by Rip Curl. Blanchard is also a professional model as well as a surfer, and Hamilton’s best friend. The model and surfer has also toured on the ASP (Association of Surfing Professionals) world tour and designs and models Rip Curl swimwear, including a line of wetsuits made specifically for surfing.