Two competitors use home-surf advantage
By Dayton Morinaga
Advertiser Staff Writer
Two of Makaha's own took the top honors at the 11th annual Quiksilver Makahiki Games over the weekend at Makaha Beach.
Bernie Baker Special to The Advertiser
Longtime Makaha Beach lifeguard Mel Pu'u won two divisions in the Quiksilver Makahiki Games yesterday, including the tandem-surfing division with partner Nani Kealoha.
Bernie Baker Special to The Advertiser
Mel Pu'u, a longtime lifeguard at Makaha, was the captain of the winning teams in the tandem-surfing and canoe-surfing divisions yesterday.
"I'm surprised nobody won it twice before," said DeSoto, 27. "I was thinking about it over and over. I was just trying to stay positive, telling myself I could be the first to do it."
Waves of 4 to 6 feet were in near-perfect form for most of the day on Saturday. But as the defending champion, DeSoto received a bye into the semifinals.
"I was sitting on the beach all day watching the other guys get perfect waves," he said. "And right before the semis, the winds started blowing onshore and the waves started to crumble and close out. I thought it was a bad sign for me."
Instead, DeSoto won his semifinal heat and edged another Makaha surfer, Rusty Keaulana, in the final.
"Getting through that semifinal heat was the key for me," DeSoto said. "It's good to get that seed into the semis as the defending champ, but it also means you come in cold against the top guys who are already warmed up."
DeSoto received $1,500 for the victory. Keaulana placed second, Bonga Perkins was third, and Kai Sallas fourth.
The onshore winds continued yesterday, but it didn't stop the "fun" divisions of the event from running.
In the canoe-surfing division, each team is allowed to use four paddlers in an outrigger canoe.
The objective is to paddle into the biggest waves possible and maintain the canoe's position throughout the wave. But it's easier said than done wipeouts are more common than long rides.
"It's good to be well-rounded, and I think we had a good mix," Pu'u said. "It's a combination of surfers, paddlers and equipment that makes it work."
Pu'u barely had time to rest after the canoe-surfing competition because he had to practice with partner Nani Kealoha for the tandem-surfing division.
In tandem-surfing, the male surfer rides the wave while hoisting his female partner into acrobatic positions.
Pu'u and Kealoha have been partners for several years, but they have not practiced recently.
"We only had time to go through a few lifts on the beach right before the heat," said Pu'u, 44. "We struggled a little bit, but we caught a couple of good ones, and I guess it was enough."
On their best wave, Kealoha managed to twist her body into several poses while Pu'u maintained his balance for the entire wave. The judges rewarded them with a score of 9.4. Later in the heat, they scored an 8.4 to clinch the victory.
"You just have to put your total trust in your partner," said Kealoha, 23. "Two people need to be in sync on every wave."
Because of the choppy conditions there were several wipeouts in the tandem-surfing division.
"We were all having fun out there, taking turns falling down" Pu'u said. "We were laughing at each other more than anything."
1, Duane DeSoto, $1,500. 2, Russ Keaulana, $750. 3, Bonga Perkins, $350. 4, Kai Sallas, $250. 5 (tie), Kekoa Auwae and Venton Siliado, $200. 7 (tie), Keegan Edwards and Makamae DeSoto, $100.
1, Team Quik (Mel Pu'u), $800. 2, NSC (Bonga Perkins), $400. 3, Stunts Unlimited (Brian Keaulana), $200. 4, Yaiya (Makamae DeSoto), $100.
1, Mel Pu'u/Nani Kealoha, $800. 2, Brian Keaulana/Kathy Terada, $400. 3, Jason Patterson/Janette Romero, $200. 4, Kamaki Worthington/Crystal Thornburg, $100. 5, Bonga Perkins/Tehani Perkins, $50.
Reach Dayton Morinaga at firstname.lastname@example.org or 535-8101.