Sunday, August 1, 2004


Snow cool in taking
surf meet at Kewalo

Snow in July is a good thing.

It is good even if mom can't be around to enjoy Snow at its coolest on a scorching hot day.

Ned Snow won the Nalu Hawaiian Spirit/SurfaHaus Open yesterday, out-pointing Kekoa Uemura, Kai Sallas and Kapono Nahina in the final heat at Kewalo Basin Park.

Snow's mother, Heidi, was at the meet until mid-afternoon when she had to leave for an appointment. She missed her son's final heat -- and the moment of his first professional longboard victory.

"I'm gonna tell her she blew it," Ned Snow said.

The final heat was busy for the first 15 minutes, but slowed considerably in the final half. Snow, who outlasted a field of 16 surfers, scored three points and took home a first prize of $600. Uemura, with seven points, earned $300. Sallas placed third ($250) with nine points, and Nahina took fourth ($200) with 11.

"This is Kekoa's home spot. I know just to be in the final (heat) was great," said Snow, a 2003 graduate of the Academy of the Pacific.

Snow, 19, recently competed at the Nokia Biarritz Surf Festival in France, where he finished 38th. Uemura was runner-up at that event, considered the biggest in longboard surfing.

Yesterday's conditions were relatively small early on, but strong gusts made the final heat much more interesting.

"They were California-like," said public address announcer Judah Lopez.

In addition, Snow's favorite spot, Diamond Head, has a lefty current. Kewalos comes from the right.

"I stayed focused the whole day. I sat in the shade and blocked everything out," Snow said, crediting his coach, Rusty Keaulana. "He's been helping me out a lot. He taught me a lot in France."

Uemura couldn't be disappointed with another second-place finish.

"I'm stoked for him. He's younger than me, so I didn't want to lose to him," said Uemura, 21. "But I surf with him pretty much every day. I don't mind losing to him."

The high finish at the Nokia Biarritz confirmed what local fans and competitors had long known about Uemura, who has total command of his board though he is just 5-foot-7.

"If you've been surfing all your life, it doesn't matter," he said

The son of legendary longboard surfer China Uemura has done plenty of exploring within the realm of the sport.

"A lot of my friends do it, so I've been shortboarding a lot," said Kekoa Uemura. "It keeps me in condition for the progressive side of longboarding."

Half the score in longboard scoring comes in the classic category, and the other 50 percent comes in the progressive requirement.


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