A whopper of a summer

Gary Kewley
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Friday - June 15, 2007
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Open men’s state surfing champ Kai Barger from Maui shows his winning style and focus on the next Bowling section
Open men’s state surfing champ Kai Barger from Maui shows his
winning style and focus on the next Bowling section

Aloha, surfers and beachgoers! The summer of 2007 is in full swing! Yes, plenty swells and events to keep us sunburnt and busy. In fact, we have waves right now that have traveled all the way from the Tazman Sea (between Australia and New Zealand). The timing of swells has been good so far for the Local Motion Surf Into Summer and the Burger King State Surfing Championships. Now it’s the T&C Surf Groms who get to score all weekend at Queens. This is how every summer surf season should be (but don’t get used to it).

So we have several state surfing champs now! Yes, and let me say Hawaii has a big future,if our young amateur shortboarders have any say. The ball is rolling, or should I say the wave is breaking ... a wave of talent that may sweep the pro ranks in the next decade. It’s hard to believe some of these surfers aren’t pro already.

There were about two dozen divisions for the three main forms of wave riding: short board,longboard and bodyboard. With more than 200 surfers it would take a minimum three days of non-stop action. The first day was Thursday, one day after a SSW swell had peaked, so competitors scored waves of 4 feet ... then on Friday it was 3 feet ... and by Saturday it was down to 2 feet.But this is exactly what makes a “state champ"level competitor: versatility. Whatever nature serves up, they rip up.

This was an extra-special year in many ways. One was prize money for the first time in the event’s 45-year history. This gave them a taste of being pro without actually going pro; winnings go toward travel, etc. This year’s sponsor list was a whopper ... and with Burger King “presenting"it was the biggest and best ever. This in large part thanks to Andy Melamed, general sales manager of Kong Radio Group on Kauai. Andy’s also the proud dad of three quite extraordinary surfers hailing from Hanalei.Yes, all three surf ... and surf well: Dillon, Mia and Naje’. Mia even came in second in the women’s division.

To see so many great names in business jumping on board to ride this wave of success for Hawaii is really exciting: King Windward Nissan, First Hawaiian Bank, Hawaiian Airlines,HMSA,Oceanic, Roxy and Quiksilver, Ben Aipa,Free Surf magazine and Nalu Underground and others.These are the companies that deserve our support in return.

The grommers will compete at Queens
The grommers will compete at Queens

Another first - thanks in large part to HASA director Bert Ishimaru - were the four-man heats and live scoring. This approximates what these talents will face on the WQS and WCT or World Qualifying Series and the World Championship Tour. The more similar we can make our local events the better. This year’s States was a big step in that direction.

You’ve heard the phrase Maui No Ka Oi., and I must say it rang true this year.Top honors in the top divisions both went to Maui.Kai Barger won the open men’s, while Matt Meola took first in the junior men’s. Maui’s Granger Larson has been a big name in the scene recently winning plenty - but not this event. It goes to show you that catching the best waves is part of the sport and art form, too. You’ll find the very best often manage to be the best “wave hunters” as well as performers. The key is consistency, and for that you need perseverance.

For complete results log on at SURFNEWSNETWORK.COM and click any Burger King banner.

Well, our future state surfing champs will be ripping Queens Surf all weekend long for the T&C Grom Fest!

The event is unique, as surfing’s elite take part with youths ages 6-14. These generous pros help inspire their skills by showing off at the “airshow.” This is a contest that awards trophies and prizes to the most deserving longboarder, shortboarder and bodyboarder. T&C Grom fest helps the youths gain confidence and develop surfing skill to better prepare them for the next level, where the competition gets tough. More than 140 youngsters will challenge their friends and test their abilities, competing in the same environment as world-class surfers. This is a great event for the entire family, where parents accompany their children to give them the support and encouragement they need. Not only is it a fun weekend of summer, but it makes for a great family outing.

I’ll see you there… and in the lineup… and back here next week.

Thanks for reading.

Mahalos to J/B of Hawaiian Water Shots!

GQ ... dropping in 4 U!

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