2015 Point Panic Bodysurfing Championship

Written by Event Director Kanekoa Crabbe

Photographs provided by Neal Miyake

On the last weekend of July, a handful of Hawaii’s most talented bodysurfers gathered at Point Panic to show off their skills during the biggest swell of the summer thus far.  Powerful 4 to 6 foot Hawaiian surf (8-12 foot wave faces) warranted a High Surf Warning and with the ideal SSW swell direction, many longtime Point Panic locals were calling the waves on Sunday morning and afternoon “as good as it gets!”.  While many of the participants reside on Oahu, a small handful of bodysurfers from the Big Island of Hawaii, California, Australia and Brazil took full advantage of the opportunity.  Though some endured a few scrapes, bruises and lost fins caused by the large surf, strong current and slippery stairwell, all contestants and spectators were smiling ear to ear buzzing with positivity during these two memorable days.

Fifty eager contestants ranging from teenagers to senior citizens had the opportunity to surf twice on Saturday with only five bodysurfers in the water at a time.  After running two rounds with ten heats in each round, the top 24 bodysurfers advanced to the 4-man priority format heats on Sunday.  These 24 wave riders continued to battle it out in the large surf until the final four emerged; a big, dark Hawaiian proudly representing the “Westside” of Oahu, a professional bodyboarding champion from the island of Kauai, a Point Panic bodysurfing legend with his pink & grey Scott fins, and a young-gun sporting black Birdwell shorts & a long goatee.

As the final heat commenced, all eyes on land were fixated on the waves.  With the blessing from above, the winds shifted to a more favorable easterly direction during the final heat as 6-foot bombs continued to mow through the lineup.  Waiting for the long rides without much success due to the changing winds, Makaha Bodysurfing Classic Event Director Melvin Keawe proudly represented the “Westside” by making his first Point Panic Bodysurfing Championship final earning 4th place.  Getting busy in the middle “green bouy” zone with a few lengthy rides and numerous rolls, bodyboarding world champion Jeff Hubbard made his bodysurfing presence well known with his 3rd place finish.  360 belly-spinning and barrel-riding his way to his third 2nd place runner-up finish with his pink & grey Scott fins, former 2010 champion B.K. Holt placed his name on the perpetual trophy for a record 4th time in seven years.  But it was the belly-
spinning, front-flipping young gun who got busy working the inside peelers that finished the weekend off as the 2015 Point Panic Bodysurfing Champion.

Kaneali’i Wilcox silently hammered the competition from his #15 seed at the end of Saturday by earning 1st place in 3 of his 4 heats on Sunday with the most important placing in the final heat. As an emerging leader amongst the future generation of young bodysurfers, Kane rose to the occasion once again showing everybody that no matter how large the surf at Point Panic, he swims out with one goal in mind; to win at all costs.  Currently in his early 20’s, Kane was the only competitor to successfully complete and ride out of take-off front-flips and easily pulled a handful of 360 belly spins on both days of competition. As the waves cleaned up and the waves fired relentlessly in the background, Kaneali’i graciously accepted his 1st Place Champion trophy during the award ceremony while smiling and throwing his shaka high and proud.  This years’ recipient of the annual Lokahi award was Mr. Larry Russo Sr. for his selfless service in helping keep the Point Panic Kaka’ako Waterfront Park area clean and safe for all to enjoy.  Humbled and speechless, Mr. Russo is responsible for landscaping, re-grassing, fertilizing and irrigating the famous tree located by the shower at Point Panic that dozens of people use on a daily basis for its shade and scenic views.

After the award ceremony as many volunteers and contestants assisted with the breakdown and cleanup of the area, many witnessed some of the best Point Panic surf seen in years.  When asking bodysurfing legend Steve Kapela about Sunday afternoon after the contest (many watching believed he completely dominated the lineup catching the longest and most perfect rides), he said “that was probably the biggest and best Point Panic I’ve ever bodysurfed in my entire life.”  As the weekend concluded, the positivity and joy provided by the surf at Point Panic could be felt by all who witnessed the atmosphere both in and out of the water.

E ola mau na kaha nalu ‘o Hawai’i! (Long live the bodysurfers of Hawai’i!) ALOHA!

The Point Panic Bodysurfing Championship is a community-based, grassroots event created to bring people together in hopes of preserving the best bodysurfing wave in the world.  Formerly called the Pure Point Panic Bodysurfing Event since 2009, this annual gathering perpetuates the legacy provided by former Point Panic bodysurfing event directors Mr. Bob Thomas & family and Mr. Sam & Mrs. Sarah Wahilani of the Point Panic Bodysurfing Club. Various local contributors, supporters and sponsors selflessly donate their time and efforts to make this event possible.  They include DaFin, MS Viper, Viper Surfing Fins, Air Hubb Fins, SOAPTOPIA, Doc Martins of Maui Sunblock, Vertra Sunscreen, NIXON, PATAGONIA, VISSLA, Scott Hawaii, Torpedo People, Kaha Nalu Hawaii, Kua ‘Aina, Menehune Water Company, KINO, Akamai Energy Consulting, Custom Countertops Inc., Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii, Surfrider Foundation, Mark Cunningham, Officials Ben Severson & Pat Caldwell, Judges Nick Menas, Wayne Takamine and Larry Russo Jr. and Dr. Michael Kliks of the CTS Foundation.  With the continued support from these noted and future organizations and members of the community, we anxiously look forward to perpetuating bodysurfing at Point Panic to the best of our combined abilities in the many years to come.

2015 Point Panic Bodysurfing Championships results

The First Mākaha Bodysurfing Classic

The following article was written by Hawaiian Kā’eo Awana. The photographs were captured by local photographer Philip Kitamura. Thanks to Sean Enoka and the boys for their collaboration.


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Mākaha beach bared 5-6’ waves (Hawaiian scale), or 10-12ʻ faces on the day of the Mākaha Bodysurfing Classic. The waves broke from the outside point and marched into the backwash infested shorebreak. The expressions on each competitor varied from pale intimidation to ragged anticipation to anywhere in between. During check-ins, two ski’s were launched from the north end of the bay. Jet skis are a typical supplement for Mākaha lifeguards, except these weren’t lifeguard skis. To much of everyone’s excitement, the Hawaiian Water Patrol was present to ensure everyone safety. Furthermore, they would be providing assistance during heats to get competitors zoomed back out the point after catching waves. This was a pivotal moment for bodysurfing in Hawaiʻi. An average Saturday morning at Mākaha has 50+ people at the lineup with every type of surf craft under the sun. Competitors were not only able to bodysurf Mākaha at 6’ with 5 other people, but also with jet-ski assist. How can you put a price tag on this experience? With the sun peaking above the Waiʻanae mountain range, the air was buzzing with excitement.

The best in the business - Hawaiian Water Patrol gearing up for the day
The best in the business – Hawaiian Water Patrol gearing up for the day

Paipo Division- Paipo boards are typically wooden boards that take on various shapes and sizes, and have no leash. The word paipo derives from the traditional name of papa paepoʻo, which loosely translates to “board to catch waves head first.” Traditional papa paepoʻo riding looks more like bodysurfing than bodyboarding.

Final Results:

  1. Duane Desoto
  2. Ben Severson
  3. Matt Solomon
  4. Sean Enoka
  5. Wareen Hoʻohuli
  6. Makani Christiansen

 

Mens Open Handboard – Handboard divisions required some type of handboard device. Handboard types ranged from daughter’s slippers to Kaha Nalu Bulaboards.

Handboard Final Results:

  1. Mark Cunningham
  2. Kaleo Garlasa
  3. Thoman VanMelum
  4. Kealiʻi Punley
  5. Don King
  6. Greg Hense

Women’s Open Handboard

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Women’s Open Handboard Results:

  1. Sonja Du Plessis
  2. Pua Nawi
  3. Nalu Puʻu
  4. Maria Remos
  5. Kyla Lozis
  6. Carla Lewis
  7. Makenzie Arita
  8. Kehau Kim

Tandem Bodysurfing – The tandem division required two partners to be riding a wave at the same time to be judged.

Don King and Mark Cunningham
Don King and Mark Cunningham

Tandem Final Results:

  1. Mark Cunningham & Don King
  2. Duane Desoto & Keanuenue Desoto
  3. Kanealiʻi Wilcox & Kāʻeo Awana
  4. Kanekoa Crabbe &  Kanealiʻi Barrack
  5. Makani Christenson & Hiram Pukahi
  6. Matt Solomon & Sonja Du Plessis
  7. Joel Badina & Kalani Lattanci
  8. Kai Santos & Henrique Postilli

Womens Open

Women’s Final Results:

  1. Jonja Du Plessis
  2. Kim Kehaulani
  3. Carla Lewis
  4. Makenzie Arita
  5. Chelsie Henry
  6. Chris Ann Severson

Mens 50 & over

  1. Mark Cunningham
  2. Don King
  3. Ben Severson
  4. Walter Rodby
  5. Jon Parrish
  6. Chris Gardner
  7. Mike Worper
  8. Pete Rea

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Mens 41-49

  1. Greg Hense
  2. Harley Holt
  3. Peter Westbrook
  4. Josh Marvit
  5. Brian Kanealiʻi
  6. Allen Buchanan
  7. Eric Wahilani
  8. Aaron Kim
  9. Pat Bryon

IMG_3079Men’s 31-40 Resutls:

  1. Matt Solomon
  2. Kanekoa Crabbe
  3. Sean Enoka
  4. Kehau Kukawi
  5. Lohiau Cofran
  6. Nick Youngleson

 

Mens 21-30

 

Results:

  1. Kanealiʻi Wilcox
  2. Joel Badina
  3. Kāʻeo Awana
  4. Kyle Mensching
  5. Malii Laigo
  6. Dylan Smith

 

Mens 20 & under

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Finalists
Kealiʻi Punley
Kealiʻi Punley

20 and under Restults:

  1. Kealiʻi Punley
  2. Taylor Char
  3. Nao
  4. Pono Garlasa
  5. Josh Abilla

People who do not bodysurf often ask what the prizes are for winning a bodysurfing contest in Hawaiʻi. They expect to hear of lavish prizes, brand sponsorships, and cash that are commonly associated with the surfing industry. Most are shocked to hear that a trophy, fins, and clothing gear are typical bodysurfing contest prizes. To Hawaiʻi bodysurfers, contests serve as platform to gather bodysurfers to share the stoke of waveriding together rather than glory, fame, and riches. At these contests bodysurfers are able to reacquaint themselves with their friends, families, and meet fellow torpedo people from around the world. This is the ultimate prize of the contest; everything else is an added bonus. Contests naturally reveal winners and losers, but that is lost in the aloha that bodysurfers share with each other in Hawaiʻi bodysurfing contests. The first annual Mākaha Bodysurfing Classic was a success and raised the bar for bodysurfing contests.