Star-Bulletin Sports

Sunday, July 28, 2002


Yesterday's China Uemura Longboard Surfing Classic was partly dedicated to avid surfer Stuart Entwistle, who passed away from melanoma. His widow, Debbie, and son, Jack, were on hand yesterday to scatter Stuart's ashes, in the container at right.

Surfers remembered
at Uemura Classic

This year's meet is dedicated to Stuart
Entwistle and Langsdorf Kane

By Brandon Lee
Special to the Star-Bulletin

Debbie Entwistle speaks of the memory fondly and with a chuckle now, but it was anything but humorous for her at the time.

It was the morning of her wedding day, summer 1992, and she was in Hawaii to marry and honeymoon with former world longboard champion Stuart "Twizzle" Entwistle. The future Mrs. Entwistle was putting on her makeup, styling her hair, doing all the things that a bride does before the biggest moment of her life.

Usually, the groom is getting dressed and ready at the same time, too.

Not Stuart Entwistle.

Entwistle was out in the waves off Waikiki Beach, surfing in his best friend's annual contest: the China Uemura Longboard Surfing Classic.

"I saw zinc cream on his nose when I was saying my vows," recalled Debbie Entwistle, at the 18th annual Classic yesterday at the Queen's break of Kuhio Beach. "I'm thinking, 'Oh, my God, you've been surfing all day.' I was so angry with him.

"So then that night, we didn't get to sleep until six o'clock in the morning and we had to be back here at seven for the final. I told him, 'You better win this contest, or otherwise, you're going to be dead meat.' And so he won it ... he won China's contest actually on our honeymoon morning."

Though Debbie, now 35, said she questioned the prudence of her choice of a husband at the time, the couple from Manly Beach, Australia, ended up having a very happy marriage. A son, Jack, came along a year after they wed, and despite trips that had to be made back to Hawaii each year specifically for the Classic, the union prospered.

Gavin Hasegawa competed in yesterday's China Uemura Longboard Surfing Classic.

Unfortunately, Stuart was diagnosed with severe melanoma in 1999 and died five months ago at 53 from the disease. Ironically, his final surf session was at Uemura's contest last year.

"(The contest) meant everything to him," Debbie said. "China was like his brother; he didn't have any family, any siblings."

Debbie and Jack Entwistle attended the Classic yesterday courtesy of Uemura, who flew them over from Australia. This year's event was dedicated to Stuart Entwistle, and also Langsdorf "Da Governor" Kane, a former Ala Moana Beach Boy and another of Uemura's friends who recently passed.

The Hawaii surfing legend also planned to donate part of the proceeds from this year's contest to the Entwistles, to help alleviate some of the medical costs incurred by his buddy's illness.

The amateur contest (some professionals enter, but they do not surf in a separate division and no prize money is awarded) that is all about fun and family for about 325 competitors spread among 11 divisions was interrupted briefly yesterday morning for the spreading of Entwistle's ashes in the water outside of Queen's.

Surfers on longboards flanked an outrigger canoe carrying his family and friends.

"He used to stop his pro tour and come do this contest; (Hawaii) is like his second home," said Uemura, 47, of Entwistle. In their younger years, the pair would travel the world together competing in international contests.

Jack Entwistle, 8, competed in the Menehune division yesterday with hopes of taking home a trophy after winning a surfboard last year. The finals of all divisions are set for today.

Like dad, "I've always liked this contest," Jack said.

Zane Aikau, Waikiki Beach Boy and nephew of Eddie Aikau, the legendary former North Shore surfer and lifeguard is another who has always liked the Classic. Aikau won his first-round heat yesterday with a combined three-wave score of 15 (out of 30) points.

True to the casual atmosphere surrounding the event, Aikau was back in the water minutes after his heat giving a surfing lesson to a big group of tourists.

"I'm getting kind of older and now I just do the fun contests -- contests where the money goes to good stuff, like China's," said Aikau, 30, who has been participating in the Classic since he was 15. He recalled being given one of his first surfboards from Uemura shortly after he graduated from high school.

"Today, it's the best contest: more fun, good sportsmanship," he added.

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