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Kalei Kauhane wins 42nd Kimo’s Longboard Contest

By Staff | May 23, 2019

Kalei Kauhane hangs ten on his way to winning the contest. PHOTO BY MANU AKANA.

LAHAINA – Mother Nature kindly swept her hand over Lahaina last week to bless the West Side with near perfect wave conditions for the 42nd annual Kimo’s Longboard Contest in Memory of Rob Thibaut.

The event is held annually at Mala Wharf where, when wind and swell direction are aligned, the waves compare favorably to world famous Surfrider Beach or Malibu along California’s southern coastline.

The only difference being Malibu is a perfection right sliding wave, while Mala Wharf breaks in the opposite direction – a left-breaking curl.

The contest is held annually as the first summer swells sweep into the southwest coast of Maui, hit the reefs and jack up to form near perfection waves from La Perouse Bay to Kaanapali Point. And Mala Wharf stands tall as one of nature’s finest performance waves – aligned to perfection with the Kimo’s contest mission statement of paying homage to surfing’s pioneers in Hawaii, including Duke Kahanamoku and California’s Phil Edwards, Billy Hamilton, Mickey Dora and others.

To this theme, the surfboards for the Kimo’s contest must be at least nine feet long, have only one fin and no leashes.

William Kaiaokamalie Neizman bottom turns during the 42nd annual Kimo’s Longboard Contest in Memory of Rob Thibaut. The contest was held at Mala Wharf during a good south swell on Mother’s Day. PHOTO BY DOOMA PHOTOS.

According to longtime event organizer Jack “Da Rippa” Starr of Kimo’s, this labor of love strives to be a fun event to respect the golden age of surfing of the 1960s.

“It was a perfect day, with near-perfect three- to five-foot glassy conditions in the morning and later in the day for the finals. It was just a wonderful way to pay our respects to Duke and the Hawaiians and to all of the surfing pioneers in Southern California,” he said.

When the sea spray had settled after the final heats, the awards podium had a distinct West Side presence, as former champion Kalei Kauhane stood in first place followed by Johnny Pitzer, Kawika Kinimaka, Eric Casco, Zane Schweitzer and Landon McLaughlin in that order.

All of these top finishers are Lahaina grown aqua athletes, many of whom can see the waves breaking at Mala from the front porches of their Lahaina family homes.

Starr added special recognition to all of the contest supporters, including the “Under the Tent” gang of Rodney “Handsome Bugga” Kilborn, Doug Pitzer (Pitzer Built), Ola Shaw (We Are More), Patty “B” Souza, Jennifer Starr, Tule Souza, Janet Waters and Penny Guth.

Kekaula Campbell does a nose ride. PHOTO BY DOOMA PHOTOS.

On the judging stand were Fred Peterson, Nathan Moody, Alan Shubin, Greg Unabia, John O’Leary and Mel Ugale.

Also under the tent were contest founder and Co-coordinator Jaime Arreola, “Stat Man” and timekeeper Neal “Armadillo” Norris, and Key Grip Christian Anderson.

Sponsors for the event include Hi- Tech, HIC, AHOY Ding Repair, TS Restaurants (Rob Thibaut and Sandy Saxten), Geezer Graphics, Maui Jim Sunglasses, Kona Brewing Co., West Maui Cycles, Dooma Photos, Ole Surfboards, and Doctors on Call.

The finalists were (back row, from left): Eric Casco, Landon McLaughlin, Kalei Kauhane, Johnny Pitzer, Zane Schweitzer and Kawika Kinimaka. In front are Contest Coordinators Jack Starr (left) and Jaime Arreola.

Ty Simpson-Kane hangs five on a clean wave at Mala Wharf. PHOTO BY DOOMA PHOTOS.