Surviving Sandy’s

Gary Kewley
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Friday - July 13, 2007
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Mark Cunningham winning the 50+ division at the 2007 Sandy Beach Bodysurfing Championships
Mark Cunningham winning the 50+ division at the
2007 Sandy Beach Bodysurfing Championships

Aloha, surfers and beachgoers! Here’s July’s second surf installment. The first few days for this middle month of summer cranked out some solid 5-foot waves but then went dismal. We have better long-term prospects for the week of July 16, so hang in there. There’s still plenty of summer to go.

One spot that doesn’t require south swells to go “off the hook” is Sandy Beach. This spot on the southeast sector has its own mood and methods. She can devour about 300 bodies per hour. If you doubt it, just go down there one weekend on a 3- or 4-foot ESE swell and see for yourself.

The thing that’ll hit you is how on earth all those bodies actually survive. In fact, they seem to be having the time of their lives (90 percent of the time). It’s all about body torque and technique; the locals out there have plenty of both - mixed with tons of raw experience.

More often than most realize ... Sandy’s is the most happening spot on the entire island ... both in the surf and surfing talent. It’s also the most dangerous. It’s been in the Guinness Book of World Records for spinal injuries. If your jaw does-n’t drop at least once, get your eyes or nervous system checked.

These people are true athletes and daredevils, surviving the gauntlet again and again. They can drop in airborne and catch a split-second rail grab to stabilize ... just before a steel lip covers them and cracks the sand 12 inches below. The sand literally explodes behind the wave from internal combustion. I could swear that sometime that sand is dry! You can reach out a grab some. This is why I like to think they call it Sandy’s. Or maybe it’s all the sand you take home with you in those irritating places.

Sandy’s is such a sweet and innocent sounding name; like a pretty girl or a harmless white sandy beach. But I can think of a few new and appropriate names like: head slammers, spine splitters, guillotines, gut blasters, ball busters, hard bottoms, insanities, absurds - or how about long names like “what goes down must come ups” or “we get more tubes here than anywheres.”

To prove this point all I had to do was take you down to witness the 2007 Sandy Beach Bodysurfing Championships this past weekend (July 7 and 8). It was the old and the new generations of surfers going all out in the 2- to 4-foot cement mixers (there’s a good name). Oh yes, body surfing is real surfing ... you can’t argue with the idea that it’s the original and purest form of the art of wave riding.

Gotta thank Greg Rice of GREGRIMAGERY.COM for his shot of the action. Here in this shot, we have the everlasting, never aging Mark Cunningham winning the 50+ crew. Geez, this man was built for body surfing. He can go as far and as fast as a body boarder sometimes.

One thing I’m proud of is just knowing that if you are the best at Sandy’s you’re the best in the world. Hawaii can stand proud and salute these relatively unknown world class athletes.

Mahalos to Al Balderama, Bob Thomas, all the competitors and all those who helped put together another great year.

Hopupu i ke kaha nalu: To Be Extremely Emotionally Excited About Bodysurfing ... To Bring Bodysurfers together.

Last items: Congrats to No Fear’s Kealamakia Naihe (Keala) from the Big Island for nearly nab-bing two titles at the National Scholastic Surfing Association event June 30.

Get your bids in now for this year’s QS Edition Vintage Surf Auction July 20-21. They hope to reach $400,000, according to Surfer and Hawaii’s best auctioneer, Joe Teipel ... What a show.

They’re kicking off the fifth event of the season on the world tour in South Africa on July 11-22. Andy Irons is in third and has won here before.

I can’t wait for all the action in this amazing surf world.

Get some action as well and all the juice above at


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