1. Talk about who you are.
I grew up in Mililani during the 1980s when it was still a relatively small town compared to today. After high school, I moved to the Big Island and attended the University of Hawaii at Hilo while my family moved to the island of Molokai. I lived on Molokai off and on for ten years building my father’s house on Hawaiian homestead land, and I worked as an electrician with him all over Maui County. In 2008, I returned to Oahu to pursue a master’s degree at Hawaii Pacific University and have lived here on the island I grew up on ever since.
I’m primarily a shortboard surfer (my favorite breaks are Off the Wall, Backdoor, Sunset Beach, Backyards, and Velzyland), but during the summertime, when the waves are flat on the North Shore, I either bodysurf point panic or surf some less crowded eastside spots. I’m currently a PhD student at the University of Hawaii at Manoa and a professional musician who specializes in performing for wedding ceremonies, cocktail hours, and receptions. My dream job is to become a fulltime, tenured communications professor and teach college students here in Hawaii.
Kanekoa BodySurf Point Panic
2. How did you get into bodysufing competition?
The first bodysurfing competition I ever entered was the 2008 Redwings Handboard event at Point Panic. I enjoyed the experience of riding uncrowded waves using my rubber slipper as a handboard and the positive interactions I had with the other wave riders who enter the event. At that time, there was no bodysurfing event at Point Panic, and I saw a massive void in the community because I believe that Point Panic is primarily a wave solely dedicated to bodysurfing first and handboarding second.
3. What are the past challenges with the competitions?
Hahahaha! Challenges? Where should I start? Nah, finding people like me who serve selflessly is the hardest part. But once I find them, there kokua and aloha is priceless! I do this solely for the love of Point Panic and the bodysurfers who came before us. No challenge is greater than the satisfaction I receive from making people smile, helping people learn about the ocean, and helping people make friends and sustain good, positive relationships with each other. Point Panic is a surf break that is unlike any other place in Hawaii. When the right size swell from the right direction comes in with the right tide and wind direction, it is a magical place, and to me, it is by far the best bodysurfing wave in the world!
Point Panic 2016
Officials Viewing tent
4. What are your current challenges?
When I started this event back in 2009, I was single, living on the North Shore, pursuing a master’s degree, surfing and golfing a lot, and having a lot of fun! Fast forward to 2017, and I’m now a husband and father, I live in town, I’m pursuing a doctorate degree, AND I’m dealing with a medical condition called ulcerative colitis (Google it, it sucks!) on a daily basis, so I have a lot more challenges today than I had nearly a decade ago. But overall, things could be worse, and I’m thankful for all the blessings in my life and for the people and organizations who help me put this annual wave-riding event on year after year.
Picture a Point Panic
5. What is your purpose?
My purpose is ocean awareness and education, to perpetuate the Hawaiian art form of Kaha Nalu, to encourage healthy living practices, to create friendships and positive connections between all people, and to protect Point Panic from land, water, air pollution, and especially the nearby excessive over-development in Kaka’ako.
SATURDAY, MAY 20TH 2017 • 8:30AM TILL 11:30A
6. How did getting Vissla, Dafin, and HSS involved change the contest?
This awesome team of sponsors has provided us with so much! From the liability insurance policy to the t-shirts to the prizes to the advertising to the permit fees to paying for the judges, I can’t thank them enough, especially Mr. Mark Cunningham, who consistently provides us with the moral support and always encourages us to keep moving forward and do our best. The event today is A LOT better than when we first started in 2009, and I’m happy to say that it keeps getting better year after year!
We hope to gain some support and/or assistance from those in the neighboring Kaka’ako area, such as the Howard Hughes Corporation, Kamehameha Schools, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA), and 53 by the Sea (the Japanese wedding chapel), so we are very optimistic and looking forward to the future!
7. What would you like to see this year?
Perfect 3 to 5-foot barreling rights! A smile on every participant and spectator all day for two days straight! No litter, no flies, no feral cats, no public alcohol consumption, no drug use, no negativity, no disrespect, and no graffiti. A clean, well-maintained park with no overfilled trash cans and nice green grass for the kids to run around and play, for families to gather, and for all people to enjoy! I believe anything is possible!
Perfect Point Panic wave