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Wave Woman Revisited

In 1954 fourteen-year-old Vicky Heldreich moved from California to Hawaii with her mom Betty and younger sister Gloria in pursuit of a fresh, new life. They quickly discovered surfing. Tall, lithe, and athletic, Vicky was inspired by her mother’s sense of adventure and positive, can-do attitude and together they mixed with the top surfing competitors of that time and quickly embraced the surfing lifestyle.

Vicky spent her teenage years surfing with her mother: they sat next to each other in the line-up, awaiting the next promising wave; they traveled to promote women’s surfing; they won competitions. Scrapbooks swelled with photos and memories, and trophies filled the shelves in the beachfront Makaha home they built by themselves in the late 1950s.

Betty (r) waxing down her Velzy balsa at Makaha. Vicky, wearing competition jersey #2, heads to her board. The two often competed together.

When she was well into her seventies, a successful, accomplished woman in her own right, Vicky realized that the greatest influence on her life had been her mother. Determined to share Betty’s story with others, she turned the family memorabilia into a book, Wave Woman, which was published in 2020. It resonates as a powerful tribute to a remarkable woman whose keen intelligence, positive attitude, and quick wit inspired everyone around her. Since the book’s release, Vicky has traveled widely and been interviewed countless times.

Fitness enthusiast Vicky Heldreich Durand bodyboarding at Makaha, 1996. “Mom lived to be 98, so I try to stay in shape, both physically and mentally.”

When asked about which qualities she inherited from her mother, Vicky responded: “I like to think that I am not afraid of challenges. I like creative work projects. I like interacting with people, adventure, a love of nature, especially the ocean, the importance of work and play.” “Mom was not afraid to face adversity, in fact, she met it head-on. And I might add everything I have done in life has been a challenge. From being in the ocean to leaving the ocean. I married at 21 and had two girls 13 months apart and lived inland in northern California. After a divorce, I became a single mother with no advanced education and no profession. I moved back close to my mother. I think the ocean and surfing teaches us how to embrace and overcome challenges.”

Betty – jeweler, potter, poet, philosopher, adventurer – navigated life with passion tempered by practicality.
Vicky – artist, educator, animal rescue activist, entrepreneur, author – navigates life with rightfully inherited passion and practicality, and is currently managing the construction of her next home near Hana, on Maui. Vicky writes a weekly blog of her complex homebuilding adventures on pristine Hawaiian land, and can be followed on the website Her book, Wave Woman, is available at the CSM store for $29.95

Vicky (r) stands with Carissa Moore, Olympic champion surfer, in front of the statue of five-time Olympic medalist Duke Kahanamoku in Waikiki, 2021.