That Lanai Is A Real Stand-up Guy

Ron Mizutani
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Wednesday - July 16, 2008
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Lanai Tabura had to overcome a fear of drowning
Lanai Tabura had to overcome a fear of drowning

You name it and he’s done it, but unlike most “jack-of-all-trades,” Grant “Lanai” Tabura is a master of all.

The veteran radio personality and host of Lanai’s Morning Madness on Island 98.5 wears many hats: father, actor, television host and producer, stand-up comedian and now, stand-up paddle surfer. His newest title may be his most impressive accomplishment. You see, Lanai grew up with a fear of drowning.

“It’s strange, because even while growing up on Lanai surrounded by the ocean I had this fear,” recalls Lanai. “But thanks to this new passion and the help of Brian Keaulana and his family, most of my fears are gone.”

Lanai first met Keaulana several years ago while filming an episode of Baywatch Hawaii. The veteran lifeguard and longtime movie stuntman often invited Lanai back to Makaha for a day in the ocean. But the busy businessman could never find the time. Last August, he finally made time - and it changed his life.

“I’ve always felt this strong connection to the ocean, but my fear of drowning was always in the back of my mind,” Lanai says, reflecting back. “Mel Pu’u (another veteran Makaha lifeguard) gave me my first stand-up paddle surf lesson, and with the help of Brian I was hooked. I didn’t get off the board for hours!”

Lanai says he soon found himself making the drive to Makaha almost daily, enjoying other water sports such as canoesurfing and tow-in surfing. But it was his time spent on a stand-up paddleboard that made the biggest impact. His new love has him grinning ear-to-ear and shedding off pounds.

“I love it because my cellular phone doesn’t work in the water,” he laughs. “I’ve lost 20 pounds since I started. I feel healthier, I’m eating healthier and I’m much more relaxed and comfortable in the ocean. I drive to Makaha four or five times a week, and it is worth it!”

Lanai grew up on Lanai, where he was a standout volleyball player. In fact, he actually made his way to Oahu on a volleyball scholarship. But these days it’s all about the ocean and what he considers Hawaii’s fastest-growing sport.

“Stand-up paddleboard surfing has been around for decades; it’s how the beach boys took pictures of tourists at Waikiki,” explains Lanai. “But thanks to guys like Brian, Mel, Todd Bradley, Laird (Hamilton) and many others, more people are doing it on high performance boards. It’s going to be even bigger in the next two to three years.”

Last month, he competed in his first stand-up paddleboard race. On July 27, he’ll go one step further when he and other local celebrities compete in the Quiksilver Edition Molokai to Oahu Paddleboard Race. Yes, Lanai will take on Molokai - as in the unpredictable Molokai Channel.

“Brian thought we should do something challenging and suggested crossing the channel,” chuckles Lanai. “So we’ve all been training for a no-pressure relay race - yeah, right, no pressure!”

Other celebrities scheduled to participate include weather anchor Malika Dudley of KGMB9, news anchor Stephanie Lum of KHNL News8, morning news anchor Dan Meisenzahl of KITV and model Kawena Chun.

“I’m excited about doing this, and I think it will be the biggest challenge I’ve ever done,” he says with high anticipation. “Being in the entertainment business and on the road all the time with my stand-up comedy, there’s not a whole lot of relaxing time. The water has really taught me how to relax. Go figure.”

It’s funny how life works when you take time to make time. The source of much of his fears now comforts him.


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