It takes two to tango - and to tandem

Gary Kewley
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Friday - January 30, 2009
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Bear Woznick lifts Kristl Apeles arm-to-arm: In tandem surfing it’s all about trust

Howzit, surfers and beachgoers!

As the last week of January comes to an end, I shake my head in disbelief that it went by so fast. We may as well be watching a surf flick in fast motion - like those high-powered films that make the sun rise and set in three minutes flat! Technology is just mimicking real life. Now, I’d better get more serious about those resolutions or I’ll be doing the same ones in 2010 (I call those re-resolutions).

The surf ‘s been fun, for sure, and there’s plenty in store. There’s a small bump this Friday and Saturday and more this coming Monday. We had a few weeks where we were above seasonal averages, and now we’re below them. Oh, well ... I’d say just stay waxed and ready, log on to and call 596-WAVE.

Last week I did an interview with master tandem dude Bear Woznick, and I didn’t get to finish (time went too fast ...). He’s the owner of the Hawaii Tandem Surf Association (HTSA) and Bear practices what he teaches and preaches, and you can tell this is his favorite activity - his primary passion. I personally never knew how much there was to it.

Tandem is its own galaxy in the surfing universe. If you want to catch up on our first chat, check out - it has all your archives - STOKED!

GQ: What you’re saying is that there’s a learning curve in technique, finesse and team work vs. raw strength.

BEAR: Yes, and also, if you hurt your partner, you don’t get to tandem cause you’ll lose your reputation. I teach “safety first,” but any good tandem guy can show you the scars he takes on behalf of his tandem partner. For every lift there’s always counter strategy for safety ... and avoiding the board if you fall.

GQ: That makes perfect sense. It’s not all grace and ease until you practice and practice. As they say: It’s not just practice that makes perfect, it’s “perfect practice” that makes perfect.

BEAR: Right. At first, the girl will try to control too much. So I have them close their eyes through the lift. They have to learn to let go ... change their attitude and muscle memory.

GQ: Wow, that sounds pretty scary, but good for these girls who go for it.

BEAR: There’s a whole other element to tandem, and that’s the dynamic between a man and a woman. It’s so powerful.

GQ: In what respect?

BEAR: It’s a connection to really ancient DNA. It’s a real visceral feeling when a man lifts a woman. When she trusts a man ... and he protects her with his skill, strength and savvy. GQ: Ummmm.

BEAR: The woman displays her beauty and her power. It’s a very powerful thing when a man and woman trust each other.

GQ: It’s a basic foundation in relationships.

BEAR: In modern life, a man seldom, if ever, lifts a woman ... just in general. Most women will say it’s the most incredible experience they’ve ever had. For the first time many say they were able to trust a man, and in the process, all this grace and beauty was released through them.

GQ: Wow! That of course begs the question of a romantic transference of all this energy. This could be an issue, right?

BEAR: Sometimes, but I say to my tandem teams that this may feel like love maybe, but it’s not. There have been totally incompatible couples that hook up but later come back and tell me,“Boy, were you right.” I always say to the men you’d better be careful, be real respectful of that woman on that board or you’re off my list.

GQ: Of course, because you can taint the experience.

BEAR: But the flip side is look who I love to tandem surf with the most wife! (Talin and Bear met via tandem).

GQ: The bottom line is surfing and especially tandem has a romantic aspect.

BEAR: If it’s real (love) ... it’s amazing. And if it’s simply pure art and athletics, it’s still pretty amazing, too!

GQ: Where do I sign up?

BEAR: Ha! You know where.

I’ll see you back here in your next MidWeek issue!

GQ, dropping in 4 U!


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