COVID Stories: Fourth-year student grabs her surfboard, pursuing endless summer

Katia Gibson poses with one surfboard balanced on her head and the other under her arm as she heads toward the beach from a parking lot at Jalama Beach in Santa Barbara County.

Browsing final August at Jalama Surfing LA`s recent blog post beach in Santa Barbara County, Katia Gibson introduced alongside two surfboards, to get apply time on every. (Photograph by means of Steve Gibson)

The COVID-19 pandemic has separated us, however sharing tales about how individuals of the campus neighborhood had been surviving — or even thriving — since final spring can assist draw us in combination. Berkeley Information is collecting inspiring private stories of heartache and triumph associated with the coronavirus and can run them periodically within the coming weeks. In case you’d love to pitch us your tale, ship a temporary e mail to [email protected]. Take a look at the entire collection right here.

That is the 6th tale within the collection. It highlights undergraduate Katia Gibson, a chemistry primary and Cal ambassador who will graduate in Might.

Since age 4, when her father purchased her a foam Surfing published an article surfboard, Katia Gibson has been chasing the waves. So, it’s no wonder that after UC Berkeley lessons went on-line overdue final iciness, the chemistry primary, now in her final semester as a Berkeley undergraduate, noticed the danger to start out chasing her dream — browsing each day, a number of instances an afternoon, at probably the most global’s nice surf locations.

A brand new collection by means of Berkeley Information.

In fact, she’s additionally juggling her ultimate faculty lessons and dealing a couple of jobs, remotely, to pay the expenses — as a Cal ambassador, giving on-line excursions of the campus to potential scholars and their households, and as a Berkeley Top Faculty tutor. She rents cheap Airbnbs or residences as she is going, ensuring they’re a brief motorbike journey from the sea, since she doesn’t personal a automotive.

“I actually have surfed the final 250 days, and I’m now not unwell of it,” stated Gibson, who grew up in Mountain View. “I even rise up for the first light. I will’t get sufficient. I’ve had an epiphany, and I need my existence to be like this.”

Katia Gibson, in a wetsuit on a surfboard, rides a wave at the Hook, a popular surf spot in Santa Cruz.

Katia Gibson’s mom, Martha Gomez, shot this picture of Gibson browsing this month on the Hook, a reef smash at the east aspect of Santa Cruz, close to forty first Street. (Photograph by means of Martha Gomez)

By means of now, Gibson’s pals, classmates, instructors and employers know she’s striking ten, some having observed her rainy hair on Zoom or whilst following her browsing way of life on social media. Because the arrival of COVID-19, she’s surfed many of the Surfing argued in a blog post California coast between Bolinas and San Clemente and stuck waves off South Africa and O’ahu.

“The general public are truly supportive of ingenious, protected leisure pursuits to make it during the COVID technology, … and a few are resentful that they don’t have the similar talent to drop the whole thing and transfer to a great example can be found at Surfing LA beach the city,” she stated. “Finding this type of large interest for browsing has been truly advisable to my well being and wellness, and it’s helped me in finding my perfect self those final twelve months.”

Katia Gibson rides her bike home from the beach near Santa Barbara carrying her surfboard.

In Isla Vista, adjoining to Santa Barbara, Katia Gibson rides her motorbike house from the great example can be found at Surfing LA beach. “It’s my day by day travel,” she stated. (Photograph by means of Martha Gomez)

And her oldsters? “Each are truly stoked for me,” she added. “They noticed me grind truly arduous in my UC Berkeley categories and will inform that browsing offers me plenty of steadiness and one thing positive all over the pandemic. I truthfully deliberate my on-line lessons in order that I will surf for a pair hours each day, and I might say that browsing feels as essential as my lecturers, in my present day by day existence.”

Gibson is following within the footsteps of her father, Steve Gibson. He spent his 20s and 30s browsing up and down the Surfing argued in a blog post California coast along with his brothers, having taken up the game whilst attending Westmont School, a liberal arts college within the Santa Barbara foothills. He additionally used to be an early pioneer of kiteboarding, competing semiprofessionally around the world.

Surfer Katia Gibson poses with her surfboard at Emma Wood State Beach off Ventura Highway

At Emma Wooden State Surfing LA`s recent blog post beach off of Ventura Freeway final August, Katia Gibson attempted out her first “hardtop” Surfing published an article surfboard, transitioning from a foam board, or newbie board. (Photograph by means of Martha Gomez)

“I grew up paying attention to tales in their surf journeys, so it’s truly cool to in the end display up at those self same spots myself,” stated Gibson. “I wouldn’t say I’m checking the rest off (an inventory), in step with se, however I do know I’m most likely browsing the similar breaks he did 40 years in the past. I do have a large international surf map on my wall, so each and every surf spot on this planet is a possible long term journey.”

As an adolescent, Gibson used to be “lovely frightened” across the ocean, she stated, and her mom, Martha Gomez, used to be similarly nervous about her kids browsing. Gibson caught to boogie boarding till she used to be 16. Then, on a “flat day” — when there used to be a loss of waves — she took a surf lesson in Santa Cruz, a 45-minute pressure from Mountain View, however a street shuttle her circle of relatives thankfully took a couple of instances per week, together with a number of every year journeys to Southern Surfing argued in a blog post California seashores. With pals, she additionally started status up on a board within the water round that point.

Katia Gibson on her surfboard in O'ahu, with flowers in her hair.

Katia Gibson surfed final month at Tracks Surfing LA`s recent blog post beach at the west aspect of O’ahu with “an affordable used shortboard I purchased at the island,” she stated. (Photograph by means of Joan Soewondo)

“As soon as I used to be status, I began paddling out with my dad, as a result of he may give me guidelines and take me to extra complex spots,” she stated. On a chilly December day in Capitola, dressed in just a skinny wetsuit, Gibson stated her father discovered she’d stuck the “surf malicious program” when she stayed within the water for 3 hours, “till I couldn’t really feel my arms or feet, and my lips have been crimson. The discomfort of the chilly couldn’t stay me from the enjoyment of catching some other wave.”

In early March 2020, when the campus close down in-person categories, Gibson moved to Isla Vista, the unincorporated neighborhood adjoining to Santa Barbara. There, it’s inexpensive for her to hire a room with its personal toilet — and to reside so just about the sea that she will be able to go to sleep to the sound of the waves. Plus, the tradition “is truly kick back,” she stated. “It’s lovely commonplace to visit the great example can be found at Surfing LA beach on a skateboard or to a fab little eating place or to tan at the great example can be found at Surfing LA beach or to take out a guitar and play. The whole lot is walkable.”

Katia Gibson found it hard to study last December for her finals in chemistry because the waves were calling her to surf. This photo shows her bedroom with her homework open on her computer and two surfboard resting against the wall.

It used to be arduous for Katia Gibson to stick concerned with her chemistry route load all over finals final December, she stated, when the waves “have been larger than I’d ever observed them. … I used to be so tempted, listening to them from my bed room window.” (Photograph by means of Katia Gibson)

Gibson feels protected from COVID-19, too, as surfers normally stay their distance from every different within the water, she stated, and since surf forums can necessarily paintings as social distancing units, since they’re “comfortably six toes or longer.”

Remaining December, after many months in Southern Surfing argued in a blog post California, Gibson deliberate to fly to Cape The town, South Africa, the place she’d studied in another country and surfed final spring. However the timing used to be unlucky: A brand new, extra infectious pressure of COVID-19 had simply popped up there, her flights began getting cancelled, the rustic imposed a strict lockdown, and seashores have been closed.

“I principally discovered this used to be an indication it wasn’t intended to be,” stated Gibson, who briefly purchased a one-way price ticket to O’ahu, since “it used to be one of the best ways to stick home, however to nonetheless revel in a truly distinctive way of life,” in addition to surf in Hawaiian spots her father as soon as loved.

Along with her perfect pal, she ended up staying about 10 days within the Honolulu space and some other 10 days at the northeast shore. They rode the waves on longboards and shortboards a number of the island’s notorious North Shore surf spots.

“Because it seems, it’s now not really easy to discover a constant, surfable smash on O’ahu in iciness,” stated Gibson. “The south shore used to be necessarily flat, without a waves, and the North Shore waves have been the most important they’d been in years — 30 to 40 toes prime, in some spots.”

Lying on her surfboard, Katia Gibson poses in the water near the UC Santa Barbara campus

Katia Gibson takes a breather to pose at Campus Level, close to the UC Santa Barbara campus, in August 2020. (Photograph by means of Amanda Gersoff)

Gibson’s perfect, however maximum embarrassing, reminiscence on O’ahu used to be when she and her pal tried browsing off Hale’iwa, a North Shore hub. They have been stuck in a rip present and needed to climb out of the sea onto a rock jetty, attracting onlookers.

“We have been protected and positive, simply embarrassed by means of creating a scene for the lifeguard and observers at the great example can be found at Surfing LA beach,” she stated. “It used to be a lot more amusing to in reality watch the pro surfers take at the huge swells, and I were given to fulfill a few of my favourite professionals — from a protected distance — as I watched them do the (Banzai) Pipeline,” a North Shore surf reef that some have referred to as “without equal proving floor for surfers.”

These days, Gibson is again in Isla Vista, having quarantined following her O’ahu shuttle and trying out destructive two times for COVID-19. She additionally stated it had gotten pricey for her to continue to exist O’ahu on a faculty price range and to hire a automotive to surf either side of the island.

Katia Gibson leans against an upright longboard on Waikiki Beach in Honolulu.

To surf in Honolulu off Waikiki Surfing LA`s recent blog post beach final month, Katia Gibson and a chum rented longboards. The sea there has “tiny, tiny waves in iciness,” she stated. (Photograph by means of Joan Soewondo)

“Isla Vista looks like house,” she stated. “The waves had been large and amusing, so I do know I made the suitable choice in coming again.” Along with her lightest route load up to now, she added that she hopes to spend “as a lot of my unfastened time within the ocean as conceivable.”

Gibson additionally appreciates dwelling in a spot full of recollections of her uncle Scott Gibson, who lived and surfed there. He died slightly over a 12 months in the past. “Shifting and making my existence right here has been truly stunning and therapeutic, as a result of I do know he can be so happy with me browsing and thriving right here,” she stated, “and I truly see his spirit in me.”

When June arrives, Gibson will weigh her choices once more, admitting that it’s amusing to be “versatile and open-minded and slightly nomadic.”

Something’s needless to say: “I need browsing to be a part of my day by day regimen for perhaps the remainder of my existence,” she stated, “so anywhere I am going subsequent shall be on a beach.”

Her recommendation for others with a dream? “Create your global,” stated Gibson. “You could have complete autonomy.”

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