Born a poor young country boy in Georgia's Okefenokee Swamp, Jim Womack was exposed to the watery world early in life, as his parents, a redneck oil field roustabout and a renegade Seminole princess, left him to his own devices at the tender age of three to pursue their dream of performing with the Cirque de Soleil as a mime stand-up comedic duo.
Necessity being the mother of invention, young Jim learned to snare pollywogs and salamanders with his little chubby baby fingers for food, and became adept at stealing alligator and snapping turtle eggs from unwatched reptilian nests. To this day, Jim has a fondness for fresh-water sushi, and often dines on his favorite: inside-out spicy sunfish and bluegill roll with bullfrog eggs - yummy!
Although the Okefenokee Swamp has no surf to speak of, tidal influences would generate some small disturbances which Jim learned to ride on a snapping turtle shell that he found in an alligator nest. Soon Jim was seeking larger and larger ripples to satisy his need for speed.
His search for the ultimate surf led him to the Atlantic shores at St. Mary's, where the St. Mary River drains the swamp to the sea. Here, Jim learned to incorporate new delicacies into his diet, feasting on the sea cucumbers and bloodworms that the sea shore provided for his substenance.
Birth of a sport
Finding that the Atlantic surf was too fast and large for his unaided turtle shell, Jim added a new twist to his surfing gear. He found a discarded trash bag on the beach, which, using salvaged fishing line and driftwood for lines and bar, he fashioned into the first surf kite - kitesurfing was born!
Quickly becoming proficient at this new sport, Jim soon outgrew the tame Atlantic waves and decided to move to Hawaii, which he'd heard about from the other beach regulars. Air fare was out of the question, since Jim lived at a subsistence level, but the wind was free - Jim set out on his long journey on an auspicious offshore day, with his turtle shell stocked with drinking coconuts and sea cucumber jerky.
Gone to Maui!
To make a long story short, Jim landed at Kite Beach, Maui, just in time to teach the locals how to kitesurf. Lou, Robbie, Laird, Elliot and the rest were agog at the moves Jim was making on his turtle shell, and begged him for instruction - the rest is history!
These days Jim can be found ripping up Lanes. Kite Beach, Waiehu, and any other place on Maui where the winds blow and the surf roars.
MORE JIM PHOTOS
Out at Maui's Jaws - December 2008
Jim out at Ho'okipa
With the gang at the 2007 Molokai Crossing
With tow-in parter Niccolo Porcella and new Honda Aquatrax