No Medals Required: Rollerbladers, Wakeboarders, and BMX Moms Don't Need No Stinkin' Olympics | Feature | South Florida | Broward Palm Beach New Times | The Leading Independent News Source in Broward-Palm Beach, Florida

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No Medals Required: Rollerbladers, Wakeboarders, and BMX Moms Don't Need No Stinkin' Olympics

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Cheyne Cottrell, 29, Deerfield Beach

Surfing

A surfboard doubles as a passport for Cheyne Cottrell, whose sport has given him a chance to travel the world in search of waves. He's surfed in Australia, Hawaii, and Central America; throughout Europe; and at Skeleton Bay in Namibia, where he says he encountered "the most perfect waves ever." Growing up the child of a devout surfer — his late father, Kirk Cottrell, opened Island Water Sports in Deerfield Beach — Cottrell enjoyed early exposure to water and an active lifestyle. "I've been surfing for as long as I can remember," he says.

In 1997, the elder Cottrell moved his family to Cape Town, South Africa, for missionary work. The move meant Cheyne Cottrell spent most of his teenage years in the vicinity of some of the best surfing beaches in the world. He moved back to South Florida in 2005 at age 21, even though the state simply doesn't provide the kinds of waves that make for a great surfer. "Getting into the big-wave scene can be a challenge," he says.

His time in Africa, combined with his wanderlust, gave him the confidence to break into the pros and earn sponsorship from Oakley. "Going from amateur to professionally ranked was a gamble... I had to put everything on the line and go for it." He once ranked as high as 90 on the Association of Surfing Professionals' World Qualifying Series. Cottrell — who now works full-time at Island Water Sports — will pass along the fundamentals of the sport in a series of ten, one-week surf camps this summer in Deerfield Beach.

Mary Anne Boyer, 46, Weston

Stand-Up Paddleboarding

For most people, a potentially fatal encounter with a five-foot barracuda would put the kibosh on using the ocean as a personal playground. Mary Anne Boyer, however — she's a bit of a badass. The onetime Olympic hopeful in sailing suffered a painful and life-threatening attack from the toothy predator in June 1997, when she was working in Coconut Grove at the Coral Reef Yacht Club, performing a routine maneuver as part of her hull-cleaning business. The barracuda mistook a metal tool in her hand for prey and lunged, sinking its teeth into her left arm. The bite severed the artery and effectively ended her sailing career.

"That took my sport away at 31," she says. But Boyer never lost her love for the ocean. "I grew up on the water," she explains. In July 2009 while visiting Siesta Key, she saw some people stand-up paddleboarding. She and a friend rented some boards, and "that was history": As a self-described "competitive-sport-type chick," she was instantly hooked. By September 2010, she had landed her first sponsor.

These days, Boyer is tearing up the booming stand-up paddleboard scene in Florida and beyond: She now counts six sponsors and routinely performs well at paddleboard races in Florida and elsewhere across the country. In May, she finished sixth overall in the women's division at the Carolina Cup. In April, she took third overall women's at the Florida State Paddleboard Championships in Cocoa. Mobility hasn't completely returned to her left arm, but paddleboarding doesn't require the fine-motor skills needed for sailing. "It's been a blessing," she says. "It gave me my water sport back."

Mandy Miller, 50, Fort Lauderdale

Ultra-Running and Ironman Triathlon

Things could have ended very badly in 2009, when Mandy Miller competed in the Marathon des Sables. It was her first go at a multiday ultramarathon in which racers are required to carry food and supplies for the duration of the race. The course consisted of 156 grueling miles through the Sahara Desert in southern Morocco. The six-day event went from hard as hell to goddamn near impossible when the region was hit with rains that Miller describes as "biblical flood" proportions, washing away course markers and resulting in a fourth-day stage that called for upward of 60 miles in one stretch.

With the course not "particularly well-marked," Miller found herself lost in the middle of the night with no water. In an attempt to get her bearings, she and some fellow racers scaled a sand dune. "What was sitting at the top? A donkey but no person. It was very surreal," she laughs.

Like most near misses, the unnerving episode became humorous after crisis was averted. "That was kind of an adventure," says the lawyer, who also holds a PhD in psychology. She'll compete this September in the Grand to Grand Ultra, in which participants hoof it 160 miles between the Grand Canyon and Utah's Grand Staircase.

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Tricia Woolfenden

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