There isn’t a day that goes by that I haven’t first checked the ocean before deciding what my plans are for the day. If it’s windy, I go sailing or for a downwind paddle; if the surf is up, I surf; if it is flat and calm, I dive for dinner.
I started surfing at the age of 7. Growing up on Waikiki Beach in the late ’40s began my love affair with the ocean. Surfing Queens was the start of a lifestyle that grew into big-wave surfing, canoe paddling, paddleboard racing, windsurfing, interisland sailing canoe races and sailing catamarans deep into the South Pacific.
I began surfing on a redwood plank with a V-tail and no fin. I moved on to a hollow board, and then to the early balsa-wood boards shaped from surplus WWII life rafts. During the mid-’60s surfboard design was evolving at a rapid rate. From round to flat bottoms, lower rails, improved rockers and shorter plan shapes – surfers were carving new lines across waves.
I moved to Kaua´i during the ’60s, and had the chance to be an early pioneer, finding unsurfed breaks and new windsurfing spots. Kaua´i, arguably one of the most insane ocean environments on earth, has the advantage of being a round island. There is always a place where the surf and wind come together to make the conditions right for any ocean sport you might choose.
My memories of living there are vivid and intense. Surfing 20-foot tubes at Hanalei Bay. Sailing my 40-foot catamaran out of Hanalei and dropping in on 50-foot walls projecting down the line on the way to Nawiliwili. Swimming the Na Pali Coast in the summer and surfing it in the winter. Diving for lobster to make omelets for breakfast.
The passion is still strong today. Last summer my son, Trevor, my first mate, Ranney Warburton and I sailed the Joe Quigg-designed catamaran – that I built with Joe in 1975 – 1,200 miles to Fanning Island. We surfed open ocean swells at 15- to 20-knots plus, and spent the month of June down there surfing, diving and fishing.
Kite surfing, tow-in surfing, stand-up paddleboarding ... what’s next? As it does for thousands of surfers who make the ocean their lifestyle, the passion for the ocean runs deep in my veins.
Go deep and keep surfing!