How Sea Hearts Deal with Fear: Kate Barattini
Kate Barattini is an artist born and raised in the sweet wetlands of the Southeastern United States. Kate has found herself with the desire to invoke positive emotion through many mediums. At an early age she worked alongside her career artist mother and is now working on her own body of work. While she is known for her surfing inspired series “Animal Shred” Kate also has her hand in filmmaking as well as an illustrative body of work she most commonly utilizes in graphic design and murals.
Kate’s mindset rests on the notion that life will continue growing and there is absolutely no reason at all to stop making whatever it is her heart wants to create, so long as it incites a kind of joy.
I first came across Kate’s amazing art and rad surfing style on Instagram this year and decided, yep, we need to interview this girl because she epitomizes what it means to be a Sea Heart. The deal was sealed when I learned how much she loves Craig Andersen, her Kane Garden fish, and traveling the world in search of bigger, more powerful waves. Thanks to Kate and Enjoy!
Tell us a little bit about where you live and where you surf? What’s your homebreak like?
I live on the South Carolina coast outside of a beautiful historic city, Charleston. Surrounding the peninsula of Charleston are sea islands protecting the mainland, and protecting those sea islands are barrier islands, where the waves are. The rivers that separate (and connect) these land masses are flush with beautiful salt marshes that are incredibly bio-diverse and worth every deep breath of awe. Thanks to these wetlands the route to the barrier islands to surf is very entertaining and full of notes on everything from the weather to seasonal migrations. Our waves are small for the most part, as most would imagine waves are on the East Coast. However, they are fast and they come in all different shapes and sizes depending on the swell. When its big it is heavy and requires very strong paddling and a quick pop-up. Learning to surf out here grooms a surfer to surf just about any type of wave and I'm grateful to have these waters as my home.
When did you learn to surf? How long did it take you to transition to riding a shortboard?
I learned to surf when I was 19. I was a classic, stubborn, young lady and started on a shortboard...it took me an embarrassingly long time to pop-up regularly. Then I got a fun shape and I saw the light!
It took me 2 years to transition to a shortboard. I remember buying it on my 21st birthday, a used 5'10" Kane Garden quad fish, I had a slight buzz during the purchase which made the spending of money a bit easier :)
Tell us about some of the biggest surf you’ve ever experienced. Where was it and how big was it?
During my first larger wave surfing experience it was 10-12 foot faces at Wilderness in Puerto Rico. I was under-gunned with a 5'7" single fin, I had a hard time getting into waves, but I kept going for it. I’m glad I had this experience so I could realize that for me to get more comfortable to surf bigger waves I needed more length and volume because having that extra time to prepare for the drop was just plain wonderful. Since this trip I had my shaper make me a 6'6" step up modeled after the Channel Island Black Beauty...and man...what a difference some length makes! I was recently surfing a fast point in Mexico with faces 8-10' and it was everything I've ever hoped to feel surfing. To ride dowwwnnnnn the face of the wave into a compressed ball only to open heartedly ride back up the face and either stall or turn was SO MUCH FUN! I've surfed waves that were just as large, although not as fast, at a different point in Mexico on a longboard and that was unreal! Being on the nose and having the lip of the wave near your hip and nearly 7' of wave beneath you is a pretty neat feeling to experience.
How do you decide whether the surf is too big or dangerous for you? What is your limit?
Wave type. If its double overhead plus at a top to middle wave then I feel comfortable going on there if I have the right equipment. If its even larger at a similar wave and I have the right equipment I would go for it. However, if it was a top to bottom, shelfing, heavy, reef break I would have to sit and observe, even if I had the right equipment. That is a wave that I do not have experience surfing and is a wave of many consequences. In time that will change :)
Do you have any special tactics or practices you use to deal with fear while you surf? (i.e. meditation, visualization, physical training)
When I wipe out in heavy surf I count really slowly. I know that I can hold my breath for a minute without much effort and usually I don't get much past numbers 10 or 20. Definitely stretch. I feel like stretching is my payment to my body for surfing...haha, trust me there are so many times I'd rather sleep late and eat breakfast but I gotta pay my physical dues and give my joints some love.
Tell us about your scariest experience in the ocean. Where were you? What happened?
I'm pretty fortunate...nothing too scary has happened. Maybe that has more to do with perception than anything. One time I was surfing in an inlet at home and lost my board only to have one of those classic moments where I had my hand one inch away from grabbing it and a wave came it drug it into the river....it was a very, very long swim and I couldn't see where the board was because it was just cruising around in the current somewhere.
What did you do to overcome that specific experience? How did overcome the memory?
Whenever I have long swims like this I just get on my back and kick because I find its really calming and I can move a lot faster on my back. I kind of shake my head at the memory now...sometimes I'm not sure why I don’t wear a leash. It’s really very dumb in certain situations. I can fortunately laugh about the memory now but it really frightened my friend who was left out alone in the sharky inlet waters while I was swimming.
What are your current goals (surfing-related or otherwise?)
In surfing I am desperate for more time riding bigger waves. I can feel it deep in my bones and boiling in the oxygen of my blood...
I must surf bigger waves, and that will require me to move to a place with bigger surf. In order to make that move I have to focus on my career as an artist. I currently have a surrealistic series of zoomorphosed surfers called "Animal Shred" that I'm continuously expanding, but furthermore I dabble in graphic design and mural painting. I'm currently seeking out the skill of sign painting because I feel like this is a profession that I could take to a new home with bigger surf :)
What is the greatest lesson (or meaning) surfing has taught you?
Surfing has taught me that every piece of my life on earth should be treated with love and integrity. From start to finish whatever I do should come from my heart, it should be completed, and it should be finished well. If its done in this way there is no room for fear to wiggle its way into the process.