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Wave Woman: The Life and Struggles of a Surfing Pioneer is the exciting story of Betty Pembroke Heldreich—a pioneering champion Hawaii surfer in the mid-1950s, a female athlete, an artist, a professional who broke glass ceilings and believed anything exciting was worth trying at least once. Betty’s daughter Vicky Heldreich Durand wrote Wave Woman as a love letter and intimate biography about her larger-than-life mother. The book details Betty’s love for adventure and a zest for life and learning that kept her alive for 98 beautiful years. Betty was, and still is, an inspiring example to us that it is never too late to try anything and follow a dream. Wave Woman will surely speak to anyone searching for self-confidence, fulfillment, and happiness.

Betty trained to swim in the 1936 Olympic Games. She eloped on a hunch and learned the tough lessons of love. With an entrepreneurial creativity and a drive for self-sufficiency, she found meaning as a sculptor, a dental hygienist, a jeweler, a fisherwoman, a potter, and a poet who lived life her way, dealing with adversity and heartache on her own stoic terms.


In middle age, Betty finally followed her dream of living near the ocean; she moved to Hawaii and, at age forty-one, took up surfing. She lived and surfed at Waikiki during the golden years of the mid-1950s and was a pioneer surfer at Makaha Beach. She was competitive in early big-wave surfing championships and was among the first women to compete in Lima, Peru, where she won first place.

Vicky’s engaging new book Wave Woman reveals important life lessons and inspiration to the reader, including:

  • An untold story – Why Vicky Durand wrote a biography of her mother: Reflecting upon her life, Vicky Durand’s greatest influence was her dynamic mother. She put pen to paper to tell the untold story of her progressive mother who broke glass ceilings with simple curiosity and desire.
  • Dealing with life changes and heartbreak: With the force of the stock market crash, the Great Depression and sudden misfortune, Betty’s life of luxury and privilege ended at age 15. How she coped with these changes shaped her philosophy and inspirational worldview.
  • Raising confident, independent, and life-loving children: Betty fostered independent choices in her children. She listened thoughtfully, practiced tough love and imparted values that mattered.
  • Finding opportunity when choices are limited: In her late teens, Betty had to survive, supporting herself and her sisters, when few jobs were available, especially for women. Betty devised a plan and took incremental, logical steps to solve her dilemma.
  • Surviving disappointment and failure: Her father failed as a provider. Her husband went to jail. Her faith and hope in marriage were battered by infidelities. Betty found the secret to surviving disappointment came through acceptance of change and looking within for her strength.
  • Living without fear: Betty was a master at defining her circumstances. Her lifelong motto asked for just one very simple first step: Try everything exciting once, and then decide.
  • Financial independence was key: Betty believed every woman should get an education or training to have a profession and/or career in order to support themselves.


Vicky Heldreich Durand

Vicky Heldreich Durand graduated from Punahou High School and spent her formative years in Hawaii as a young surfer. In 1957, she won the Makaha International Surfing Championships, an early contest that included women. Vicky and her mother, who was also an accomplished surfer, were invited to Club Waikiki, in Lima, Peru, as Hawaiian surfing ambassadors.

                Vicky received her AA from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles and her BS from California State University, Long Beach, in family and consumer science. She holds an MS from Oregon State University in clothing and textiles, with a minor in adult education. She is certified in secondary teaching and special education. Vicky’s interest in fashion led her to establish a cottage industry sportswear and textile design company that she directed for a number of years; boutiques, department stores, and museum shops across the country distributed the company’s products.

                Vicky taught for many years at a Title I school in Wai‘anae, Hawaii. While there, she collaborated with community groups to provide better education and services for her students. In addition, she successfully pursued grant funding to start an early-education-and-childcare facility for teen parents to enable them to finish school and graduate. Head Start later took over the childcare center, and Vicky worked closely with the staff.

                In 2013, Vicky married Bob Liljestrand, who manages the Liljestrand House in Honolulu. Vicky serves as a member of the Liljestrand Foundation board and has been deeply involved in its transformation and growth over the past ten years. She also manages family property in Hawaii. She is the mother of two grown daughters, gardens avidly, and is passionately involved in animal rescue, working mainly with cats and dogs.


“Morph together Amelia Earhart, Frida Kahlo, Emily Dickinson and Esther Williams and you have Betty Pembroke Heldreich Winstedt — a 20th Century water wonder woman.” — Ben Marcus, former editor of Surfer Magazine

“Betty Heldreich is not just the kind of surfer I admire . . . women and men who are 100 percent, authentically themselves . . . I am inspired by her positive resilience and passion for life.”— Carissa Moore, professional surfer and 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2019 WSL Women’s World Tour Champion




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