Keiki Riding High

Island youth tear it up on East End.

By Jennifer Smith

What began as a small group of families bringing the keiki out to catch some waves, has turned into a three meet series of surfing fun for families across the island. Now in its 19th year, the competition at Waialua Beach continues to draw crowds and encourage Molokai’s next generation of surfers.

“This is exactly what we wanted,” said Competition Director Peter Angelsea, looking at a steady set of waves breaking at the East End beach. With a high tide coming in at noon, he didn’t know how the conditions were going to fair for the kids at last Saturday’s surf meet. But in the end the waves were optimal, and the keiki were all smiles. 

“Everyone turns out, it’s all good fun, a lot of laughs,” said Dick Wheeler, volunteer judge. He attended the event with his kids nearly 20 years ago when it began, and after a few years of a break, he is back cheering on his grandsons.

The event is “a really good excuse for the kids to get out in the water,” Wheeler said. “It has started a lifetime of enjoyment.”

“We try to emphasize fun,” Angelsea said. While the kids will receive scores from a cumulative total of the three surf meets, the purpose of the event is to provide a healthy family oriented day. “The focus is on fellowship of community.”

And it was a full community of lively, active, and supportive `ohana out in the ocean cheering on the kids last Saturday. Dads, grandpas, uncles, auntys, and supportive attendees jumped in the water to give the keiki a helping hand catching waves and paddling out.

Judges looked for the length of the ride, if the surfer can catch their own wave, and if he/she can do tricks-such as walking up on the board or sitting down and standing up. Seven community members volunteered to alternate judging.

“Everybody pitches in,” said Angelsea, explaining that it is all for the kids. Every participant receives a T-shirt and a prize.

Angelsea and wife Minka Nelson first became involved with Ko Molokai Keiki `O Ke Kai nearly eight years ago, when their son began competing. Since then they have slowly gained more responsibilities, and today with the help of a supportive volunteer staff, the couple coordinates the popular surf event.

The event was deemed a success by Angelsea who said 47 kids signed up to surf, including a few first timers. Ko Molokai Keiki `O Ke Kai tried to publicize more this year to encourage kids to get involved.

Keiki compete in heats based on age, 6 years and under, 7-8 years old, 9-10 years old, and 11-12 years old. The cost to compete is $5 each meet (includes a T-shirt) and a one-time fee of $5 for insurance. All participants receive goodie bags at the awards banquet after the final meet.

The next two meets in the surf series will be held on July 12 and 26, registration is at 9:30 a.m., and the competition begins at 10 a.m. Hungry attendees can take advantage of The Little Grass Shack at the next two meets.

Mahalo to all of this year’s sponsors and volunteers. And a big thank you to the Friendly Isle United Way for providing a grant to make the event possible.

For more information, to volunteer, or donate prizes please call 558-8110.


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