H.U.G.S. In The Surf

Gary Kewley
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Friday - August 11, 2006
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Volunteer surf instructors lead the H.U.G.S. kids at Surf 4 H.U.G.S. last weekend
Volunteer surf instructors lead the H.U.G.S. kids at
Surf 4 H.U.G.S. last weekend

Aloha surfers and beachgoers! First wave: We have a break from the last two weeks of incredibly consistent swell. All in all, it’s been a great summer of surfing - even if we don’t get much more action. No worries, though ... ‘cause there could be more 2- to 4-foot surf on the way for next week. Just don’t expect the same size and regularity of late July.

Second wave: The kids scored 10s again for the annual “Surf 4 H.U.G.S.” event at Kuhio Beach last Saturday Aug 5. I mean, if the “fun factor” was a rating, these boys and girls were surfing pros all the way ... all the day. Yep, this year was even bigger and better than last. There were more kids, more free T-shirts and Rainbow Drive-in grinds ... and yes, more smiles, surf and sunshine.

What is it that makes this event - these kids - extra special? They’re all a part of H.U.G.S. or “Hugs, Understanding and Group Support.” It’s an extended ohana of more than 700 ... including parents and children. The youngsters (about 150) have life-threatening illnesses like cancer or heart, kidney, liver diseases. Yet, despite these conditions, they live life to the fullest with courage and all the joy they can find. And on this summer day they found it ... in surfing! Some even tandem surfed high in the sky. Let me tell you, it can be scary up there! But they went for it and discovered the rush of a lifetime. Hey, even those who didn’t get up but knee-rode to the shore were stoked. Just to glide along the surface of the water on a fast-moving wave can do the trick. Stoked!

Queen’s Surf was the spot, H.U.G.S. was the ohana for the 2006 Surf 4 H.U.G.S.
Queen’s Surf was the spot, H.U.G.S. was the ohana for the
2006 Surf 4 H.U.G.S.

A BIG mahalo to all those who helped make this day a success ... and, BIG HUGS to all the kids who bring us joy and inspiration. Visit HUGSLOVE.ORG.

Third wave: This weekend is “on” for the sixth annual Rochelle Ballard O’Neill Surf Camp on her home island of Kauai, followed by the second annual O’Neill Island Girl Junior Pro Supported By Reef and Nukumoi Surf Co. Saturday’s camp will focus on technique and competitive strategy, with an evening skate session, and hip-hop lessons by Laila Metzcer. Over the years, Rochelle’s camp has groomed Hawaii’s most-promising young surfers including Coco Ho, Alana Mock, the Krebs sisters and Taira Barron. That’s quite the talent list, and it’s sure to grow with this kind of grassroot local support.

Then on Sunday (Aug. 13) contest organizers will bring the O’Neill Island Girl Junior Pro back to Poipu. The contest, with a total prize purse of $7,500, is run in an ASP format with ASP judges, giving the aspiring pros a taste of how things work on the pro circuit. This year’s event was limited to 48 competitors between the ages of 8 and 21. What an opportunity for these girls! The 2006 winner will be given a slot in round one of the OP Pro Hawaii, the women’s six-star WQS event that is the first jewel of the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing! In addition, each of the four finalists will receive a slot into the trials for the second jewel of the Triple Crown, the WCT Roxy Pro at Sunset Beach. Six of Kauai’s top boys and juniors will also have the chance to participate in a $1,000 expression session.

“I saw the potential in these girls, and their surfing has come such a long way,” says Rochelle. “I think in another five years’ time, Hawaii will dominate the WCT. I’m glad to contribute to the growth of women’s surfing in Hawaii, and I’m grateful that my sponsors O’Neill and Reef recognize the importance and share my passion for supporting the up-and-coming youth.”

“O’Neill is really excited to help this event grow,” says O’Neill Junior’s marketing manager Karin Kendrick. “This contest catapults these girls up to the next level, giving them an opportunity to pursue their dreams of professional surfing.”

Last Wave: Set your calendars to Aug. 19-27 for the Duke’s OceanFest honoring the legacy of Duke Kahanamoku. The major objective (besides fun in the sun and surf) is to raise money for the Outrigger Duke Kahanamoku Foundation. This funds college scholarships for outstanding Hawaii scholar athletes among other great sports and character-building programs. I’ll be there in the MidWeek Surf Team as we compete with the Hawaiian Airlines Duke’s Legends Surf Classic. Even the U.S. Army has a team entering! This portion of the OceanFest rides in Aug. 25-26! Each team has a surfing legend in it ... Stay tuned - and in shape.

Meet you back here next week in MidWeek! GQ, Dropping In 4 U!

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