NewsMakuakai Rothman

Does Parenthood Mean More Success in the Water?

Presented by Qalo

Rothman in Peru
Can having family at home help surfers reach new heights? A delicate balance of caution and commitment may be the key.

For some surfers, balancing commitment to life in the water and life on land can complement each other. Makuakai Rothman (HAW) won the 2014 Billabong Pico Alto -- his first-ever Big Wave Tour event -- just days after his daughter was born. Not only that, but he also became Big Wave World Champion in a whirlwind few days for the Hawaiian charger.

I spend time with my daughter and love her up because I'll be gone for a while.

That mix of commitment to home and work is especially key the big wave business, where last-minute contest calls are the norm. Before the events are called on, Rothman said, "I make sure my stuff is packed ahead of time so I don't have to scramble at the last minute. I spend time with my daughter and love her up because I'll be gone for a while."

Rothman on Winning at Pico Alto
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The 2014 Big Wave Tour Pico Alto winner on the intricacies of the wave.

But knowing what to focus on when is part of the gameplan. Now that Rothman has a daughter at home, the pressure to go big when the time comes is more important than ever. "I don't let being a dad get in my way because you can't hesitate when you're out there," he said in a WSL interview. "I went straight from the hospital to winning my first contest. Right before Pico Alto I gave mommy a kiss and wrapped the baby in a blanket. I was still wearing my hospital bracelet during the competition."

I went straight from the hospital to winning my first contest.

At heart, Rothman is still the same surfer he was before he had a daughter -- the stakes are just a little higher these days. "I have a fiercely competitive spirit," he said. "I don't just want to be an elite surfer but an elite athlete and all-around performer. When I do what I do I just tap into my grom and get it done."

Rothman is in good company. Dane Reynolds (USA), who had his first child in May, made it to Round 5 of the Fiji Pro in June, his best professional result in recent years.

As veteran dad Glenn Hall told the WSL, it might not be a coincidence."If I'm gonna go away and leave my wife at home with two kids to come here [and compete] I'm gonna try hard to win," he said. "I don't ever want to go away and not put the effort in knowing what they're sacrificing for me to be here."

Catch Rothman and more of the world's best back in the water when the WSL contest schedule continues in 2016.

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