Summer 2005

Gary Kewley
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Friday - July 29, 2005
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Andy Irons had to lay down radical turns like
this to grab second place during the Billabong
Pro in South Africa. Kelly Slater won in the
final seconds

Aloha, surfers!

With July nearly over we might as well take a quick look at how the “Summer of 2005” might finish up.

It’s not looking good. I’m speaking from the point of view that a solid Hawaii scale 4- to 6-foot south swell would be nice … better yet, totally awesome, dude! Those “dregs of summer” are likely to last as far as the computer models can see (about two to three weeks out). Remember, this doesn’t mean that we won’t be seeing plenty 2- to 3-foot swells. You will have surf to ride … but nothing to write home or brag about. Remember though, we are talking about Mother Nature, and she loves to surprise us and show us who’s boss every now and then. This is one case where surfers don’t mind being told who’s boss! Bring it on!

The best surfers in the world finished event No. 6 in Africa over a week ago, and Kelly Slater beat Andy Irons in the final seconds. These two surfing phenomena are holding the top two positions … again. It’s hard to truly comprehend that between these two athletes we have witnessed the domination our beloved sport for more than 10 years! Andy has won three in a row during the most highly competitive field in the history of the ASP, while six-time world champ Kelly Slater is simply surfing’s best ever — he’s our Lance Armstrong. Interesting to note that this year Kelly is going for No. 7 just like Armstrong did in the Tour De France.

These “super-human miracle men” don’t come along for many generations — or even in one lifetime! We should stop and take special note on such epic sports heroes. It makes us proud to be Americans, and to witness it all while we’re alive instead of reading it in the pages of sports history.

Next stop is Chiba, Japan, Aug. 31-Sept. 7. This will be event No. 7. They’ll have four more stops in California, France, Spain and Brazil — before heading home for the 12th and final showdown at Pipeline during the Vans Triple Crown.

Congrats to Australia’s Jamie Mitchell. Last weekend he won, for the fourth time in a row, the Hennessy’s International Paddleboard Championships! Australia dominated the top of the heap. The event was a success and the conditions perfect for great times. World longboard champ, Bonga Perkins, won the stand-up “beach boy” division. But for belly and knee paddling we will need to do what our friends do “down under” to change places — year ’round serious competition.

On a very sad note, Tiger Espere has passed on.

Hawaii’s own legendary waterman died of cancer on Aloha Friday, July 22. Tiger is truly a Hawaiian treasure known for his paleo printing, the Haka dance, Hawaiian chanting, celestial navigation and even the noseflute for youth.

Tiger is also well-known for the “Tiger Espere Longboard Classic,” which happens every year on the Big Island. This event raises awareness for Kawaihae, a historic surfing and recreational reserve and cultural resource. It was through Tiger’s leadership that a surf park named Pua Ka‘ilima ‘O Kawaihae was created as a breakwater so all could enjoy the gift of surfing.

Longtime friend Jimmy Z remembers, “Tiger was never a flashy, high-profile type and didn’t like publicity or fame. He was just a good-hearted, simple man, an excellent friend, someone I counted on many times.”

I am sure that Jimmy speaks for many others who were lucky enough to know Tiger — a leader, master surfer and canoe builder, a teacher, a mentor for many, and a Hawaiian historian. We send our thoughts and prayers out to Tiger’s ohana and friends.

Thank you, Tiger, for all you’ve given to this land and its people.

There will be a paddle-out at Waimea Bay for those who knew him this Saturday, July 30, at 6 a.m. Tiger’s ashes will be scattered on the Big Island Aug. 4.

Until next weekend, stay wet, stoked and grateful. I’m GQ, dropping in 4 U!

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