Stephen Tsukiyama, Janner Asuncion, Faith Wenzel and Gabe Garduque
On the morning of July 25, 30 of Hawaii’s foremost pro surfing legends invaded the shores of White Plains Beach at Barbers Point. But this wasn’t for a fancy wave-riding competition; the watermen were there to teach more than 50 youths from the Boys & Girls Club of Hawaii clubhouses the basics of surfing.
Sanctioned by the Association of Surfing Professional-Hawaii Region, the half-day clinic was sponsored by HIC and Quiksilver, and completely organized by volunteers Stephen Tsukiyama, Janner Asuncion, Faith Wenzl and Gabe Garduque (pictured above, from left).
“We’re exposing the kids here to the culture of surfing, which I think is so important,” says Garduque.
“And it’s surprising how many kids come out to these events and they don’t know how to surf,” Asuncion adds. “They don’t have ways to get to the beach, they don’t have the equipment to ride, which is kind of a bummer because we’re surrounded by water.”
Similar clinics have been held for the past nine years at various locations around Oahu in conjunction with Ocean Sports Day. But it was two years ago when David Nakada, executive director of BGCH, approached Tsukiyama that he says the opportunity arose to bring the one-on-one surf clinics to Leeward youths.
“The first place that came to mind was Barbers Point, and the two people that came to mind were Gabe and Jan,” Tsukiyama recalls. “They’ve taken it and made it grow and become very successful.”
“The kids were there, but getting the volunteers ... It’s hard to get volunteers!” Garduque admits. But he pulled volunteers from his days with the Hawaii Amateur Surfing Association. More help came when Garduque called a few boys who used to lend a hand with the amateur circuit - Rusty and Brian Keaulana, Brock Little and Aaron Napoleon.
“I wondered if they would carry it through, what, 30 years later. And I pick up the phone and they said, ‘Yeah, we’ll do it,’” he says, adding that Billabong and Stan Wong donated commemorative certificates and laminated name tags featuring the work of world-renowned surf photographer Clark Little to each child. “Our goal was to make sure every child stood (up on the board), and close to 99 percent of the children stood,” Garduque says. “If you look at the pictures, you’ll see each child has a smile on his face.” -Sarah Pacheco
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