There’s no denying that legendary Duke Kahanamoku has become synonymous with the Hawaiian value of Aloha. He shared his love for the ocean with everyone he met. But it was his innate bond with the every push and pull of currents, every crashing wave that helped him to become a five-time Olympic medalist in swimming, remarkable surfer and esteemed canoe steersman. And unlike a fish out of water, he found comfort on land and was also known for his acting career in Hollywood and his responsibility as sheriff of Honolulu.
The father of modern-day surfing: Duke Paoa Kahanamoku.
Duke has no doubt stolen the hearts of many throughout the world, but it’s at home in the islands that we celebrate in his honor today. The Duke’s OceanFest happens every year at Duke’s favorite surf break in Waikiki. It’s an 8-day event that features a variety of ocean sports that were near and dear to him – longboard surfing, tandem surfing, surf polo, stand up paddling, paddleboard racing, swimming and beach volleyball.
One of the highlights of the festivities includes celebrating his birthday on Aug. 24, with this year marking his 122nd birthday. There will be a Hawaiian luau, as well as the waterman’s awards ceremony. But he’ll be wearing his birthday lei a few days before that, when the festivities commence tomorrow (Aug. 18, 2012) with a lei draping and ceremony at the famous Duke statue.
More than 900 ocean athletes will take part in the festivities that start this weekend. Not to mention, the hundreds more who come to support their loved one in races and contests on the beach. If you can’t make it in person, you can watch the events on Oceanic Time Warner Cable digital channels 250 and 1250, or if you’re not on the island, you can ride a virtual wave and watch a live global webcast online (www.dukefoundation.org).
No matter how you choose to spend your upcoming week, please take time to remember and appreciate all that Duke has done for the culture we so dearly love today. He’s not only credited for spreading the sport of surfing around the world but also for sharing the creed of aloha that continues to shine throughout.
DUKE’S OCEANFEST 2012 • Tomorrow to Aug. 26, 2012 (Free) • Kuhio Beach in Waikiki, Oahu • For event times and info, www.dukesoceanfest.com • Metered parking on street or at zoo; near bus route
Photo Courtesy: Outrigger Duke Kahanamoku Foundation