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My Favorites: Sam Ballam

sam ballam
Sam Ballam rips across a Costa Rican wave on a "surfari."

Fall 2018

Philadelphian Sam Ballam fell in love with surfing as a teenager at his home break in Ocean City, N.J. After earning his MBA from the Kellogg School of Management, he spent five years working and surfing in Hawaii, where he was president of the Northwestern alumni club during the late 1970s. Ballam, who lives in Haverford, Pa., spent his career in corporate finance, health care finance, and pension and endowment investment management. At 67, he still spends summer days riding waves in the Atlantic, and annual winter trips take him to some of the best warm-water surf breaks in the world. Ballam estimates that he has surfed more than 75 surf breaks on both U.S. coasts and around the world. Here are his favorites: 

S-Turns, Pohaku Park, Maui

“It offers a very sweet 4- to 5-foot peeling wave, breaking both left and right. It doesn’t break over a sharp coral reef, which is good, so you don’t get scraped up. The wave breaks about 150 to 200 yards offshore, so you get these nice long rides. When we go in the winter, as you’re sitting out there in the surf, you see humpback whales jump in the distance. It’s very calming.”

Ollie’s Point, Costa Rica

“It’s only accessible by boat. You have to drive for an hour to get to a remote port, pick up a little boat from a local fisherman, who then takes you for an hour to Ollie’s Point. Located just south of the Nicaragua border, it’s just a really fun, very fast, head-high, hard-breaking wave. My wife [Susan Hubble Ballam ’75] is very understanding of my surfing passion and appreciates that I am careful enough to follow the surfer’s motto: you surf to surf another day.”

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