“I met Savannah Shaughnessy in the summer of 2011 in Puerto Escondido, Mexico. She struck me then as an incredibly nice girl with a firm handshake, an honest laugh, and a genuine smile. I liked her immediately.
What I would soon learn during that trip, was that along with being the kind of person that you find yourself liking and trusting immediately, she is also one of surfing’s most most understated and unrecognized athletes.
One particularly huge day during that trip, I came to understand just who Savannah really was. Sitting on the warm sand of Playa Zicatela, I felt the earth vibrate as the enormous waves pounded relentlessly on. I watched Savannah and her friend Maya Gabeira paddled out into the inconceivably massive shore break and vanish into the wild sea. After a few minutes oohs and awes arose from the crowd of spectators and Savannah dropped into a gigantic bomb out the back.
I think that what makes this Santa Cruz native such a gem, aside from her incredible abilities as a surfer, her passion and drive, and her intelligence, is her undeniable humility. Since that trip to Puerto, I have had the pleasure of surfing and working with her on a few projects. I can say in all honesty, this dynamite little lady is someone to keep a close eye on.”
-Lauren Moser, Blocks n Bling
Blocks n Bling: Can you describe/remember the first wave you ever caught?
Savannah Shaughnessy: I don’t remember the first wave that I caught. I remember surfing Cowell’s and 38th a lot, and loving the sea otters and kelp.
BnB: How do u get waves in the line up with all the aggressive guys out?
SS: I don’t enjoy feeling like I need to be aggressive to catch waves because I like to have fun when I’m surfing, especially since I don’t have much time to surf. I just sit where I want to catch a wave, and when a wave comes I go for it, and most of the time being confident works. If the crowd is really grumpy I find another peak to surf or I go in.
BnB: What are a few tips/advice you would give to young girls?
SS: Be yourself, workout, have fun and be kind. Show off your athletic side in the water.
BnB: How do you deal with fear?
SS: I try not to let it build up, and to handle it right away. I try to start my day tackling what I dread or fear most. After handling something I’ve been avoiding or a scary situation, I always feel like, hmm…that wasn’t that bad.
BnB: What do you do/where do you go in your mind when you are getting beaten by a giant wave. Where is your happy place?
SS: I focus on slowing my heart rate and counting slowly. I clear/equalize my ears, and try to guess how deep I’ve been pushed down so that I will have a plan to get to the surface once the turbulence begins to subside.
BnB: What is your ultimate goal (in terms of surfing)?
SS: My ultimate goal is progress and fun. I always want to be improving, and I always want to have fun. I’ve always thought that it would be awesome to be in the Maverick’s event either with the men, or in a women’s heat. I’m starting to take some of my focus off of Maverick’s, and I’m starting to think about other, less crowded big waves on the West coast. I’d like to get away from the hype and crowd.
BnB: Describe your dream day?
SS: Double to triple overhead surf at Zicatela (Puerto Escondido) surfing Carmelita rights. Sunny, offshore and uncrowded.
BnB: What was your worst/scariest experience?
SS: Watching my brother and close friends take heavy wipeouts, seeing my friends and acquaintances sustain serious injuries or drown.
BnB: Who did/do you look up/ inspired you as a woman in the big wave surf world.
SS: Sarah Gerhardt and Shawn Alladio. Shawn and Sarah gave me a lot of good advice and encouragement.
BnB: Tell us about your most memorable moment in surfing.
SS: I think I have three. Taking Shawn Alladio’s three day open water PWC rescue course in Morro Bay when I was 15. Finally making the paddle out all alone during the 2010 Maverick’s event, and paddling into a good wave before dark (the waves were really big). Racing in the 32 mile 2014 Molokai to Oahu (M2O) race in the solo-stock prone class.
BnB: What are you up to in addition to surfing?
SS: I’m currently working on my second degree. I completed my first BS in biology at UCSC, and now I’m working on my BSN in an accelerated one year program at Samuel Merritt University. The program is pretty full-on, I’m not able to work or do anything else. I think of it as a “full immersion” nursing program. While it is a lot of work and difficult at times, it is also fun. I’m most interested in pediatrics, especially pediatric oncology at the moment. I may change my mind throughout the program though!