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Sports :: Surf :: Hawaii Surf Scene :: Virgin Surfers 2

Virgin Surfers 2

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Ren getting schooled
Ren gets schooled by the girls

Back in 2003, I took a few of my friends out to Waikiki to teach them how to surf. Although we weren't all that successful, we had a great time. Ever since then, they've been "talking big" about surfing regularly, but they never went back. But still they kept hassling me about taking them in the water again.

So after making excuse after excuse, weekend after weekend (always selfishly worrying that the surf might be better elsewhere), I finally decided it was time--time to once again try and teach the "virgin surfers" how to ride waves.

Ren with his snug rash guard 

These guys are all my best friends; characters that I met and befriended way back in high school and college. Ren "I'm not a day over 37" Hirose is a hotel executive who can finally truthfully tell his clients that he's surfed in Hawaii. Ken "I prefer to wear this t-shirt" Takahashi is a restaurateur who recently sold his Big Island restaurant and is permanently back on Oahu. Ken had his own board, a sweet Local Motion/Steinlager 9'0" (for sale btw), but he still had a severe case of board length envy.

Joining us was good friend Wayne "Yes I have a job" Takabayashi, who just moved back from the Mainland and was trying to get back into the island life groove. What better way to reconnect than to catch a few waves under the silhouette of Diamond Head. Taka, as he is also known, actually already had more than a few waves under his belt, so he was the most experienced of the crew (besides moi).

Ken and Taka
Ken and Taka arrive on Hawaiian Time 

Also there was my daughter and her friend, who were riding with me on my board. Man, these kids are getting big (and heavy) so fast! My wife cruised on the beach and generously offered to be the designated photographer to capture this momentous event.

Ren of course was eagerly anticipating our surfing adventure. He called me the night before, frantically asking if his rash guard should be tight. Guess he was trying on his outfit and didn't remember it being so snug three years ago. I reassured him that having it form-fitting was better, and that his slightly bulging waistline was all part of growing older than 37.

Ken on the other hand, was a bit more casual than Ren. He called too, but just a few minutes before showtime, asking how to affix his fins onto his new board. The FCS fins were "duck soup" to put in, but the box skeg was a bit confusing (especially for the uninitiated). Later on, I had to instruct him on which side of the board to wax--nah!

The teacher and the students
The teacher and his students

So we all gathered just behind the beckoning Duke Kahanamoku statue in Waikiki, the birthplace of modern surfing, with Ken and Taka rolling in a little late due to equipment challenges. I rented a couple of 12-foot soft-top surfboards, one 11-footer, and we had Ken's 9'0". We were styling and raring to go!

Conditions, however, weren't all that great. It was a bit overcast, with light onshore winds, and only a tiny southerly pulse pushing through. Well, maybe it was for the better: less sunburns and less stress.

How to surf
How to surf in one easy lesson

After watching some of the pros (da real kine beachboys) teach the tourists how to surf, I felt confident that I could teach my friends. Ummm, bad assumption!

My daughter and her friend had a fun time regardless. Thanks to paddling gloves, I was able to stroke into a few fun ones with the two of them on top; them tentatively trying to stand while I guided the board from behind. Later on, I pushed them both into waves on their own. Despite getting run over a few times by other novices in the water, they still enjoyed themselves. Just another lesson for them that life is full of challenges; we all just have to deal with the bumps and the bruises.

Da girls
The girls were styling!   

As for my boys, well, they actually did pretty good! Ren gained about ten pounds from that last session, but it didn't phase him as he caught some of the better rides of the morning (sorry, no proof again!). His "sponsor" (decking him out with matching jersey, shorts and underwear) will surely be happy from the continuous plugging he gave them.

Ren, trying
Missed Ren's better rides, but caught this dramatic moment 

Possibly because of losing around ten pounds, Ken had a much better session than last time. After realizing that his 9'0" was not buoyant enough for his still "statuesque" build, he jumped on one the soft-top boards and impressively stood up on several waves!

Ken on his heels
Ken, in his t-shirt and on his heels 

Taka did as well as I expected he would. We used to bodyboard on Kauai together back in high school, even challenging each other in the water. (ho, KHS 25th reunion this year!) Like everyone else, the toughest part for him was paddling into the waves. However, once in trim, he caught some long rides.

Taka crouch
Taka-boy, sunburn check

In some small way, history always seems to have a way of repeating itself. As I pushed Ken into one wave my camera once again got snagged on his board's leash. This time, instead of getting dragged along, my camera leash snapped and the camera got ripped off my neck. I saw it fluttering down underwater, but managed to grab it before it was lost.

Things went from bad to worse, with the camera battery hatch popping open while I was in the water. Because of that, I had to stop shooting from the water. Thankfully, there was no permanent damage to the camera.

Neo, cruising
Having fun on Ken's board 

Of course, this teacher had to steal away more than a few times to catch a few waves between lessons. I ventured to the "outside break" and tried my luck on Ken's board just to show him that it actually could be ridden in the small surf.

Our crew lasted in the water all the way to the end of the board rental time of an hour and a half. I was proud of everyone. Actually, I even had to pat myself on the back, since this time everyone was successful in standing up!

So Ren, Ken and Taka have finally graduated beyond virgin surfer status. Next stop, the Banzai Pipeline!

Da boys
Ken, Taka, Ren, and Neal, May 2007

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TonyC — Tuesday, July 3, 2007
Thank you for the great article. I too am trying to relive my old days of surfing (25 years ago) by attempting to get back on a board (my new center of gravity does not help!). Love people who help others.

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nmiyake — Thursday, July 12, 2007
TonyC: Glad you like. No shame getting back into it. My center of gravity seems to be dropping too. The stoke is the same though. Aloha!

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kuhioboy — Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Lowah centah gravity mo bettah, brah! Stick to board like urchin. Been surfin' all along for last 50 years. Lived in Ma'ili and downtown from '66 to '72. Also in those little apts. next to A-Frame houses. One-armed caretaker, Mad John. Surfed lots there. Now, no more than 6, 8, maybe 10 foot wave. Best place for me now is Makaha. Nice wave, soft shoulder for old man! Tong's, Old Man's, Queen's, Canoes, Poplars, two's, three's, maybe Ala Moana if feeling brave. Surf on!!!

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nmiyake — Thursday, July 12, 2007
kuhioboy: Sounds like you got many precious surfing memories. That's what it's all about. Kinda like good fish stories, only mo' better. Stay healthy and keep riding. Maybe I'll see you out at Old Man's one day soon.


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