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Queen Of The Surf
Dan Geringer
July 27, 1987
Frieda Zamba has come off Florida's diminutive waves to win three straight big titles
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July 27, 1987

Queen Of The Surf

Frieda Zamba has come off Florida's diminutive waves to win three straight big titles

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She put on weight. She suffered awful mornings after. She finished ninth a lot. She wondered if she would ever win again.

"I was getting really bummed out," Zamba says. "I just had the attitude like I didn't care." Near the end of the tour, she realized she was wasting money—her parents', Shaw's and her own, earned in three years of cooking spaghetti and pizza at Morelli's Mamma Mia in Flagler Beach.

She returned home determined to straighten up and surf right. Shaw started coaching her in earnest, making her swim laps and work out with weights for the first time. He traveled with her on the '84 tour, reading the ocean for her, running up and down the beach, signaling her toward the best waves. The other competitors were stunned. None of them had coaches. Shaw's beach dramatics were as radical as Zamba's surfing style.

"Once Flea started coaching me," Zamba says happily, "we got closer and closer together and we just fell in love." She widens her pale blue eyes in wonder. "I mean, it was like, boing! It's fate. We were meant to be together."

She finished second that year. But in 1985 she beat the reigning champion, California's Kim Mearig, to become the first East Coast woman ever to win the Association of Surfing Professionals world title. It was a triumph of East over West, of aggressive and radical over smooth and feminine.

For Zamba's homecoming the town strung banners that screamed: FLAGLER BEACH: HOME OF FRIEDA ZAMBA, WOMEN'S WORLD SURFING CHAMPION over State Route A1A.

"The whole first week I was home," Zamba says, "I wouldn't go uptown. I was just so embarrassed."

The mayor gave her a key to the city and referred to Flagler Beach as "Zambaland" in his proclamation. Snack Jack, an oceanside raw bar, threw her a "Frieda Did It" beach party.

In the 1986 finals, riding her little 5'7" board on 5-foot waves at Bell's Beach, Australia, she beat Jodie Cooper, an Australian, on the last maneuver on the last wave in the last heat.

"For an hour," says Zamba, "we were fighting wave for wave, maneuver for maneuver. It was so intense all the people on the beach were biting their nails. On my last wave, for my final maneuver, I did a radical off the lip right onto the beach. That's what won it."

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