Longboarders hit surf for fun, prizes
By Dayton Morinaga
Advertiser Staff Writer
China Uemura's Longboard Surfing Classic reached adulthood yesterday.
Deborah Booker The Honolulu Advertiser
Kent Apo rides a wave during the 18th annual China Uemura's Longboard Surfing Classic at Kuhio Beach, Waikiki. More than 300 surfers participated in the contest.
Deborah Booker The Honolulu Advertiser
"This contest is all about fun," said Uemura, the former national longboard surfing champion. "I'm all for longboarding because that's what I do and that's what my kids do. This is just my way of giving back."
For 18 years, Uemura has served as host and summer Santa Claus of the event. This year's version of the contest drew more than 300 entries, making it one of the largest longboard surfing contests in the world.
The only requirement of contestants is that they have to surf on longboards, which are usually around 9 feet long. The $30 entry fee per surfer always goes toward a charity or cause of Uemura's choice.
This year, Uemura said he will donate proceeds to the family of former longboarding world champion Stuart Entwistle, who died earlier this year from complications associated with melanoma.
Entwistle was from Australia, and entered Uemura's contest nearly every year. His wife, Debbie, and son, Jack, attended yesterday's contest. On Saturday, they spread Stuart's ashes off Waikiki.
"He'll always be here watching you guys now," Debbie said. "Waikiki was like his second home thanks to China."
Uemura also created a trophy this year in honor of Stuart Entwistle, and awarded it to Lyon Young, a competitor in the menehune division.
"I want to give that award to somebody who loves surfing, just like (Entwistle)," Uemura said.
As per Uemura tradition, the past, present and future of longboard surfing was on display yesterday. Age divisions ranged from menehune (13 and younger) to legends (60 and older).
"It's good to make the finals and win," Uemura said. "But I try not to make that the most important thing."
As proof, Uemura often awards the best prizes to the lower-placing finalists. Because of the contest's reputation and Uemura's recognized goodwill, dozens of sponsors donate prizes annually.
"There's just so much camaraderie in this contest," said Tony Moniz, a former pro surfer who now runs Faith Riding Company, which served as one of the title sponsors this year. "It's a family contest and it's like a party event. It's just good to be associated with this."
There was even a division for surfers who weigh more than 235 pounds, and another for men who were daring enough to surf in only a Speedo.
For some of the surfers who don't reach the finals, Uemura creates "special" awards.
Yesterday, for example, 12 surfboards were donated as prizes from local surf shops. Uemura awarded eight of those boards to students with deserving grades. The other four were given away in a raffle drawing.
"It's an awesome event," said Desire DeSoto, winner of the women's division. "It's the kind of event where the whole family can come down and enjoy the weekend."
The DeSoto family has been doing that since the start of the event, and Uemura recognized them with a special trophy for sportsmanship yesterday.
"My dad, my uncles, my cousins, we all try to do this contest every year," DeSoto said. "We usually stay in a hotel for the weekend and just have fun."
In another Uemura tradition, professionals are allowed to enter the contest against amateurs. Among yesterday's contestants were former world champion Bonga Perkins and fellow pros Lance Ho'okano and Zane Aikau.
"I've been doing this contest since I was a little kid," said Perkins, who won the men's 18 to 29 age division. "I remember growing up surfing against the older pros wanting to beat them, and now I guess it's the other way around."
Menehune: 1, Ezekiel Lau. 2, Kody Gedge. 3, Noelle Carroll. 4, Lyon Young. 5, Alika Apo. 6, Micah Miguel. Boys: 1, Ben Kealoha Jr. 2, Lelekai Palama. 3, Ian Soutar. 4, Fernando Santos Jr. 5, Tim Hoover. 6, Kaimana Beauford. Men: 1, Bonga Perkins. 2, Jordan Hart. 3, Venton Siliado. 4, Bradley Wicklund. 5, Atilla Jobbagyi. 6, Scotty Fong Jr. Masters: 1, Zane Aikau. 2, Virgil Sisiam. 3, Raynold Quinores. 4, Michael Sisiam. 5, Gavin Hasegawa. 6, Danny Tamonte. Seniors: 1, Dean Nakamaru. 2, Jamie Ballenger. 3, Lance Ho'okano. 4, Kent Apo. 5, Layton Sun. 6, Mel Kinney. Grandmasters: 1, Allen Wicklund. 2, Rufus Horswell. 3, Craig Sugihara. 4, Clyde Aikau. 5, Ollney Hoopai. 6, Rick Walker. Legends: 1, Malcolm Ing. 2, Wilfred Lopes. 3, Bob Brown. 4, Tom Bionde. 5, George Plachaty. 6, Robert Caires. Over 235 pounds: 1, Alika Willis. 2, Roy Vierra. 3, Destry Flores. 4, Jamie Ballenger. 5, Charleston Awai. 6, Bala Spencer. Men's Speedos: 1, Lance Ho'okano. 2, Michael Sisiam. 3, Jamie Ballenger. 4, John Cater. 5, Stephen Katayama. 6, Jackie Campbell. Girls: 1, Joy Magelssen. 2, Geodee Clark. 3, Amy Lawson. 4, Lana Clark. 5, Sanoi Peahu. 6, Chrissa Gum. Women: 1, Desire DeSoto. 2, Teddi Lee Sipe. 3, Lydia Nahinu. 4, Pinoi Makalena. 5, Lee Barraclough. 6, Becky McPeek.