Duke Kahanamoku, (August 24, 1890 - January 22, 1968) the famed Hawaiian surfer who later became Mayor of Honolulu, Hawaiian folk hero and five-time Olympic swim medalist. You cannot walk on the main boulevards of Waikiki in Honolulu and not see images of Duke Kahanamoku. Fresh leis are placed on his large bronze statue daily. It is a pilgrimage for surfing enthusiasts young and old.
I have even witnessed a multitude of prayers taking place at its site. Sure, his name is also on several restaurants throughout Hawaii. But I yearned to know more about him.
I love the water, I love surfing (granted I do not participate in the sport), I LOVE watching it! Whenever I visit Oahu, I drive along the North Shore to Pipeline (stopping at as many shrimp trucks as I possibly can along the way). Pipeline, is the locale where true enthusiasts surf. The true desitination point. The waves are phenomenal, upwards of 40 feet and many surfing competitions are held there. It's the equivalent of the American Super Bowl or Wimbelton! And boy oh boy is it worth going to!!! Did I mention just how hot those surf boys are?????
Duke was also a very good friend and surfing companion to Doris Duke, who built a manse (now a museum) on Oahu, known as Shangri-la.
While living in Newport Beach, California on June 14, 1925, Kahanamoku rescued eight men from a fishing vessel that capsized in heavy surf while attempting to enter the city's harbor. 29 fishermen went into the water and 17 perished. Using his surfboard, he was able to make quick trips back and forth to shore to increase the number of sailors rescued. Two other surfers saved four more fishermen. Newport's police chief at the time called Duke's efforts "the most superhuman surfboard rescue act the world has ever seen."
The Duke with Amelia Earhardt in Honolulu
Duke passed away at the age of 77 from a massive heart attack. Leaving a legacy carried on my lovers of the sport.
Long live the Duke!