Surfing Olympics

Gary Kewley
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Friday - April 14, 2006
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HASA World Team 2006: (from left) Donald Pahia (coach), Monica Byrne Wicke, Lipoa Kahaleuahi, Levonne Pahia (team administrator), Granger Larson, Tyler Newton, Rainos Hayes, Torry Meister, Nathan Rex, Bill Pierce (coach), Ashley Hunter, Dyland Melamed, (seated) Alex Smith, Casey Brown and Kyle Ramey (missing: Lani Hunter and Bethany Hamilton)

HASA World Team 2006: (from left) Donald Pahia
(coach), Monica Byrne Wicke, Lipoa Kahaleuahi,
Levonne Pahia (team administrator), Granger Larson,
Tyler Newton, Rainos Hayes, Torry Meister, Nathan
Rex, Bill Pierce (coach), Ashley Hunter, Dyland
Melamed, (seated) Alex Smith, Casey Brown and Kyle
Ramey (missing: Lani Hunter and Bethany Hamilton)

Howzit, surfers!

As we near the middle of April, you can feel summer in the air and the promise of clean summer swells for all. I think we really need this feeling of hope and stoke. It seems that after Hawaii’s six-week stretch of rain and subsequent polluted water, it’s time to move on and up. That does not mean forget, of course, the related accidents and tragedy. Nature can teach us and test us, but I hope we learn well before the next lesson. Let’s shoot for an A+ next time.

I wish to extend my heartfelt sympathy for Oliver Johnson’s family and friends. As most of us know, he was the young 34-year-old impassioned surfer who died after exposure to the sewage-tainted Ala Wai boat harbor the night of March 30. In just over a week he was gone. What most of us did not know was ... that anything like this was remotely possible here in Paradise. Sure, we can handle a sewage spill here and an infection there - especially in light of freakish, record breaking rain - but a flesh-eating bacteria that can kill in barely a week? Whoa, wait a minute!


I recognized Oliver’s photo in the paper from surfing. What a shame. It is my prayer that Oliver’s death is not in vain; that we will change in light of his terrible passing and save future lives. It’s all about prevention. Keep riding those waves in the sky, Oliver ... and please watch over us.

Hey, did you know there’s an Olympics of Surfing? And that Hawaii is the reigning world champion? The answer to both these rhetorical questions is yes and yes! It seems right and fitting that the birthplace of the “Sport of Kings” should hold the gold. However, our surfing Olympians need our support - not just positive pats on the back, but financial support. We need to get these talented future surf stars “set up” with air fare, accommodations and transportation, uniforms and entry fees. They’ll be heading all the way to Brazil May 6-14 for the ISA (International Surfing Association) World Junior Surfing Championships. It’s a long way from home.

Who are “they”? “Da Boyz” have two divisions: 1) Under 18: Casey Brown and Torrey Meister, both from the Big Island, plus, Kyle Ramey and Nathan Rex from Kauai. 2) Under 16: Granger Larson (Maui) and Dylan Melamed, Tyler Newton and Alex Smith (Kauai).

The surfer girls are Monica Byme and Lipoa Kahaleuahi from Maui, Lani Hunter from Oahu and none other than Bethany Hamilton from Kauai!


What’s also cool is that Hawaii is considered its own Island Nation rather than part of the Mainland USA in this event. This is because of Hawaii’s singular status in the surfing world as the birthplace of our sport. When you add in that no other place in the country delivers surf like Hawaii does, you can see why we are so distinguished. It is truly an honor for Hawaii to be No. 1 out of 28 countries. I mean, California has more surfers than we have residents! It’s a big pool ... so our boys and girls rock. Be stoked, but be generous. You have your chance to help. It’s coming up Sunday, April 30, from 4 to 11 p.m. at Local Motion and Brew Moon in Waikiki. There’s going to be thousands and thousands of dollars in value up for grabs. Come on down!

For more juicy details, please log on to SURFNEWSNETWORK.COM or HASASURF.ORG - and thank you for your support!

Looks like we can expect some south swell action this weekend, with trades locked in and ready to blow open some tubes. Maybe even some sunshine! Please ... be sure to be aware of leftover polluted areas. Ask lifeguards, look for the signs posted, watch out for cuts, wash up good afterward. And if you feel ill afterward, get professional help at once. It’s always better to be safe than sorry - for everyone!

I’ll see you out there and back here next week!

GQ, dropping in for you!

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