This year we are honored to be part of the VISSLA & DaFin Point Panic Bodysurfing Experience which will include a first-time handboard division after the first day of Bodysurfing. As VISSLA & DaFin were planing the event with event director Kanekoa Crabbe, it occurred to me that I really don’t know Kanekoa very well. Check out our interview with him below:
Kanekoa's favorite pastime on the South Shore is bodysurfing Point Panic!
When and what inspired you to bodysurf?
I started bodysurfing in 1979 when my mom and dad placed me on the shoreline at sandy beach. As a naked infant who couldn't walk yet, my young parents would watch me eat sand until the waves would rise up on the beach and the water would push me to them up the beach. I learned 2 things back then; don't eat sand and always keep your eye on the ocean. In September of 2008, my passion for bodysurfing was re-ignited after catching a memorable wave at point panic during a large south swell. My father was a well-known Point Panic bodysurfer during the 1970's and today, we share the same love for this special wave.
Bombing the middle peak at Sandy Beach
Was their a time period you didn't body surf and when did you get back into it?
Growing up in central Oahu, I enjoyed bodyboarding during my younger years until I transitioned to surfing shortboards in high school. Even throughout my college years, I continued to ride shortboards. It wasn't until my early 30's that I realized how special bodysurfing is to me as a board surfer, free diver and Native Hawaiian. Riding a wave with only your body is a feeling like no other.
What inspired you to start the contest and when was the first one?
I was inspired to revive the bodysurfing event at Point Panic since I saw a massive void in the community. At the time, there was only a "handboard" event at Point Panic in which many of the participants were young, inexperienced waveriders and non-residents of Hawaii. In my opinion, the handboard event at point panic was catered to an international crowd, was highly competitive and didn't recognize the host culture and their precious surf spot. Our bodysurfing event focuses on the tradition of bodysurfing point panic which was the original form of wave riding at this location, by primarily Native Hawaiians, since the state created this surf spot in the 1950's. Our first event was held in mid-september of 2009. With clean and consistent 2-3 ft surf for two straight days, it was an extremely fun event for all who participated!
2009 Point Panic Bodysurfing Event participants
What contest do you recall as being the most fun, when was it and why?
Every summer, I track the south pacific storms near New Zealand to see if we can hold our event during a favorable swell window. After recognizing a large purple blob on the charts, we held our 7th annual event last year in late July and it was by far our best, most fun event yet! The waves were a solid 4-6 ft and we maxed out with 50 contestants. Barrels, rollo's, spins and the occasional 360 belly spin is the usual norm but it was the first time we witnessed a successful front-flip in competition. The surf continued to pump even after the contest ended. It was a special weekend that raised the bar of bodysurfing globally.
What is your role with this event & who are the other people that help?
As event director, my responsibilities are the same every year. I basically reach out to and gather people who are willing to assist our efforts in helping us hold an annual bodysurfing celebration at Point Panic and I am humbled to say that I have never asked for any financial contributions. Our event is truly a labor of love where people give of their time and share their resources with us to assist our efforts. Willie Mai'i, Shane Awai, Nick Menas, Kenui Cochran of DAFIN, Mike Kliks, Mark Cunningham, Mike Stewart, Fred Simpson, Jim & Jolie of SOAPTOPIA are a special group of people whom have helped our efforts every year since 2009. My job is to bring people together and perpetuate bodysurfing in any way possible.
Westside Boardless Bodywhomping!
What and how is VISSLA going to be involved this time and what do you see happening in the near future with them?
We are extremely honored and excited to be working with VISSLA this year! With their assistance, we are able to increase our participant numbers from 50 to potentially 80 and we're also expanding our event to include handboarding due to the recent popularity of the sport. The presence of VISSLA also contributes to the legitimacy of bodysurfers being creative and innovative water men and women whom are often disrespected by the larger wave-riding community. We look forward to working with VISSLA in hopes of ensuring there will always be a bodysurfing event at Point Panic in the many years to come!
Kanekoa's favorite pastime on the North Shore is surfing shortboards & riding barrels!