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Zane Kekoa Schweitzer continues family’s achievements in watersports

By Staff | Dec 15, 2016

Zane Kekoa Schweitzer (center) celebrates winning the gold medal for SUP surfing at the 2016 Fiji ISA World SUP & Paddleboard Championship.

WEST MAUI – There’s something special about an aqua-Maui man or woman, and the millennial wave of young Valley Isle ocean sports enthusiasts and champions rises with every seasonal swell.

One of the leaders of the charge is a familiar name in the world of watersports here on Maui. The West Side’s Zane Schweitzer is a rising star among the ever-growing legion of surfers, stand up paddlers, canoe paddlers and kayakers that have grown up in the nearshore waters – and beyond – on the island.

The name rings a bell because Zane’s grandfather, Hoyle Schweitzer, was one of the pioneers of surfing at historic Malibu’s Surfrider Beach in Southern California during the 1950s. Along with surfing history luminaries such as Hobie Alter, who invented the Hobie Cat catamaran and led the surfers’ entrepreneurship movement with Hobie Surfboards; Grubby Clark, the founder of Clark Foam that revolutionized surfing with his invention of the compressed foam blank to shape and fiber glass into a lighter, more maneuverable surfboard; and Tom Morey, who invented the boogie board; it was the elder Schweitzer who carried this eclectic energy of the era to combine surfing and sailing with the technical engineering of the group and brought windsurfing to the forefront of athletic adventure.

The rest is history as Hoyle ignited the windsurfing explosion on Maui, particularly at Hookipa with its perfect combination of wind and waves. Windsurfers not only from California, but representing faraway cultures of Europe and Japan, converged on Maui to celebrate the tropical joy of natural flight and high-speed wave riding.

The elder Schweitzer took it one high tide further and moved to the Valley Isle in the early 1970s, settling in at a picturesque oceanfront home at Kahana Cove on the upper West Side. He and his wife, Diane, continued their dedication and romance with ocean sports here and the natural progression continued with their three children.

Matt Schweitzer grew up at Kahana and was infused with the feel of the sea salt mist and the changing tenor of the ocean waves that sometimes lapped and then would explode along the shoreline of the homestead. Of course, the call of the sea took young Matt into an adventurous upbringing that included surfing the perfection of nearby Honolua Bay and the quality waves along the leeward coast as well as launching his own surf line with his father’s invention.

The Schweitzer family traveled to Hookipa and flew around the world to enjoy the invigorating energy of windsurfing, and Matt became an 18-time world champion. His bright and beautiful wife, Shawneen, also took to the sport and became a national gold medalist.

Soon there were three energetic children for the young couple, and the sea adventures continued as a family at their new home at Launiupoko along the south shore near Lahaina Town.

Matty, Zane and Shelby have probably spent half of their waking life in the ocean – and the easygoing aloha nature of their personalities manifest the infusion of Mother Nature’s gifts.

Zane, now 23 years old, began surf competition at six years old and has matured into a dominant world champion in his global travels to 39 countries competing in SUP wave riding and long distance races, windsurfing and surfing.

Along the flight, Zane won the Junior World Championships at age 14 in Peru, the Junior World Paddle Championships two years later at Sunset Beach, and the Stand Up World Tour at 18 years old on the Big Island. More recently, he was nominated by the World Surf League for the big wave event at Jaws this year, was a three-time Master of the Ocean windsurfer, was named the Ultimate Waterman Champion, and just last month won the International Surfing Association World SUP Championships at Cloud Break in Fiji.

But beyond all the accolades he receives, it is the heart of this West Maui warrior – and that of his family – that shines on brightly. The Schweitzers together have launched a family business called Maui Sports Adventures that specializes in one-on-one experiences in the ocean with aqua-Maui champions.

The organization works with various charities, including Surfing Healing, Stand Up For The Cure, and Susan B. Komen, all focused on breast cancer research and aid to uninsured cancer patients.

Zane adds to the aloha cause in founding Schweitzer Sports and inZane Super Groms. He enjoys motivational speaking, working with children, volunteering for charities, and working with organizations that preserve the planet, such as Parlay and Sustainable Surf, and Water Trek.

The inZane Super Groms host five events a year, teaching local kids of Maui to surf, SUP, kayak and outrigger canoe paddle. All the while, Zane emphasizes the importance of aloha and caring for the islands and the Earth, as well as giving back to the community.

“I am very passionate about teaching and sharing what brings so much joy into my life,” young Schweitzer concluded.

He will publish and release his autobiography in 2017.