Sisters Kimberlee and Hannah Bennett have had a Moana lifestyle, spending most of their childhood surrounded by the sea. Kimberlee, 35, and Hannah, 26, were born in Suva and spent their young days on Rotuma, in Hawaii and later in the United States because their Dad moved around a lot for work. “My Dad is American, my Mum is Rotuman and it was my mum who made sure that we kept our feet grounded,” Hannah said. “My Dad is an entrepreneur, sailor and boat builder so when we were small he took us where his work took him,” Hannah said. “We had the best of both worlds but wherever we travel, our hearts belong here in Fiji,” Kimberlee said. Both sisters speak fluent Rotuman and have had award-winning successes in the sport of surfing. Last month they were in Fiji at the Druku Memorial Surfing Event held at Cloudbreak, Tavarua. Kimberlee started surfing when she was very young. “I enjoyed the ocean and was always a keen swimmer. I think Hannah followed suit.” “I used to change Hannah’s diapers and I also taught her how to surf.” Hannah attributes her down-to-earth personality to her mother. “My mother has always taken us back to her island home in Rotuma from the time we were kids until today. We have a house in Itumuta and we are welcome there anytime to fish, snorkel and quench our thirst with the delicious coconuts.” Hannah studied international affairs but she said her dream job is to one day coach young surfers in Fiji. “Kimberlee and I are very passionate about surfing and we would like to encourage youths in Fiji to take up the sport,” she said. Hannah helps her parents manage the family business, Fiji Island Naturals which supplies organic cosmetics in bulk to various cosmetic operations locally and abroad. “I am able to juggle work and my passion for surfing because I can take time out from my busy schedule at work to surf, Hannah said.” Kimberlee lives in Hawaii with her husband and two-year-old son and comes to Fiji often to visit. “I bring my family and at times I take them right to Rotuma for a taste of paradise.” Kimberlee’s son Kia’a also speaks Rotuman.
“I also come to Fiji because I support Hannah in her efforts to coach younger females in surfing. I try to help out whenever I can.” The surfer sisters have a motto: ‘do it for the girls’. They are of the view that young people, especially young women, need to be empowered to take up the sport. They believe that following them there are no other women here to continue where they have left off. Hannah represented Fiji in surfing when she was 17 years old, competing in the Melanesian Cup. She has also taken part in international surfing competitions in South America, Australia and here in Fiji. Kimberlee represented Fiji at the South Pacific Games, Melanesian Games and Pro Junior Competitions in Hawaii. Despite surfing at various locations around the world, they rate Cloudbreak at Tavarua as the best surfing spot in the world. “The best surf is right here at home. We don’t have to look far.”
Slicing the waves at top speed
A child enjoys the day at the competition venue.
Girl power…Bennett shows off her skills