Liz Clark surfing a wave in one of her favorite places, the ocean. Photo credit: Tahui Tufaimea

A Love Letter to the Ocean by 11th Hour Racing Ambassador Liz Clark



Liz Clark

Liz Clark is an 11th Hour Racing ambassador whose passion and natural ability to mobilize those around her as a force for good made her and the non-profit organization she co-founded in French Polynesia, A Ti’a Matairea, a perfect fit for 11th Hour Racing’s grantee program.

Liz’s rich personal history with the ocean is a story of fascination for many. At just 25-years-old she stepped aboard her 40-ft sailboat, Swell, and set sail south from California. She would spend the next decade sailing more than 20,000 nautical miles in the Pacific Ocean. Not only is she a true adventurer, she’s an author, activist, environmentalist, and pioneer.

In an exclusive piece of writing, she shares with us her profound love for the ocean.

 

The moment I felt the connection 

 

Dear Ocean,

Your sparkling afternoon smile is one of my earliest memories. Remember how I would sit up on the bow of our family sailboat, legs dangling over the side, just staring out at you underway? Your immensity, the mystique of your movements, your ever-changing surface, the chance to catch a glimpse of the life within. I could watch you play with the sunlight for hours and hours in fascination. You gave me the space to dream, process, breathe. It felt like love, in the form of respect, wonder and curiosity. I wanted to know you better, whether that was sailing, swimming, diving through kelp forests, or eventually riding waves… you made me feel part of your magic.

 

The sailing journey to a deep connection with the ocean. © Jianca Lazarus

 

The evolution of love

 

There were times I didn’t fit in growing up, but near you I always felt like I belonged, never needing to hide anything or adapt when in your presence. You made me feel beautiful, courageous and important. My big emotions were never too much for you. You welcomed me just as I was. I didn’t have to explain myself, my grievances, my big dreams – you already knew. And you loved all of me, even the wild, untamable parts. That gave me the courage to believe I was worthy, the courage to keep exploring the world and myself, to keep believing that I mattered even in this great unfathomable universe.

 

There were hard times

 

Liz discovers growth by overcoming the challenges of the sea. © Jianca Lazarus

 

 

A best friend is the one who always challenges you to grow, to help you see things you don’t see. To become your best version. I wouldn’t want to relive those moments, both voyaging, and in the surf when you seemed merciless, as if I didn’t know you … your harshness felt like betrayal. Only now I see, dear Ocean, how could I have learned to push beyond myself, to know the depths of my own strength, to feel my limitlessness … without those harrowing dark nights at the helm, those panicked moments underwater where I was fighting for breath? How would I have learned to feel so insignificant yet so powerful all at once? Part and parcel of it all. How would I have understood that the joy and the pain can co-exist? How would I know this peace had I not felt the chaos of your currents?

 

Is this happily ever after?

 

Thank you, Ocean. You have given me so much. You give so much to all of us. 

And yet, everyday we, as humans, put you more and more at risk … warming the world and filling you with plastic. Over-harvesting, drilling, and polluting you. Abusing your boundless generosity and risking your very existence.

It’s time for change, for action. I want to protect you, make you feel appreciated. I know I am only one woman, but millions love you like I do, and you have taught me – us –  that love is worth fighting for.

 

Finding the perfect balance of ocean wilderness and peace. © Jianca Lazarus

 

My forever promise

 

I made a promise to you long ago and it’s one I keep close to my heart as I navigate my days on this blue planet. I promise to love and protect you, not only in my daily actions but through my work with A Ti’a Matairea and beyond. I will never stop fighting for you, as you have never ceased to provide for me and for all life on earth.

Forever yours,

Liz

 

Learn all about Liz’s work and sign up to the A Ti’a Matairea newsletter.

 

Header image credit: Tahui Tufaimea