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Kimo Kinimaka is the father figure to a group of adventurous young surfers in MTV's new show "Living Lahaina." CLICK FOR LARGE
MTV surf teachers treat 'Lahaina' tourists right
Kamehameha graduate Kimo Kinimaka owns the Royal Hawaiian Surf Academy in Lahaina and loves the young men who work for him. But after building a compound (frat house?) where his surf instructors live and work in a "family type of deal," the 44-year-old has become something of a father and mentor to the 20-something thrill-seekers. "If the boys get out of line, I gotta give 'em one crack," he laughed.
Kinimaka is one of the stars of yet another MTV reality series shot on the Valley Isle. Set to premiere tonight on what Kinimaka refers to as the network's "testosterone Tuesday," the series profiles life in the wet, sandy, laid-back lane filled with tourists trying to surf.
Debuts at 10:30 tonight on MTV
"There's no making out at all," noted Kinimaka, who retired from a 20-year career as a Hawaiian Airlines flight attendant to start his own business. "They're not 18 or 19. They're a bunch of surf instructors who do what they want when they want. The reason they're still here is because they've taken surf instruction to another level. I tell them, 'All you have to do is make this part of their trip the best part of their trip.'"
This isn't to say that the local boys and imports from San Diego don't make their share of mistakes along the way.
There's Alex, 25, whose wild enterprises often attract the spotlight. Casey, 25, has been with Kinimaka since the surf academy opened and still lives on the compound, though Kinimaka has fired him three times. At 6 foot 6 and 260 pounds, Prep Bowl winner and Saint Louis graduate Sean aspires toward a career in mixed martial arts fighting between surf lessons. Dave, 24, wants Kinimaka's help starting his own business teaching surfing, but irritates his boss when he tries to pilfer clients. And 26-year-old Matt gets distracted with his pursuit of music and ladies.
Adventures include stand-up paddling to Lanai, with a lingering visit from a 14-foot tiger shark along the way, and tow-in surf sessions with legends like Titus Kinimaka (Kimo's uncle), Archie Kalepa and Buzzy Kerbox. Kinimaka insists his crew learns a lot from these mentors along the way, and there might even be some -- dare we say it? -- character development.
Led by executive producer Jesse Ignjatovic, MTV followed life in the compound and the ocean for three months on Maui and throughout travels to Indonesia, California and Kauai.
Kinimaka said he refused to do anything in the show disrespectful to his Hawaiian culture. For instance, the producers suggested stunts in shark cages. "That's my aumakua," Kinimaka told them. And the idea faded away.
Though he favors "perfect English" over pidgin in the show, Kinimaka admitted that his scoldings were often laced with colorful -- and censored -- language. "I do my best to keep out the F's because I have kids and a lot of people looking to me," he said matter-of-factly. But sometimes it couldn't be helped.
When asked why people should watch "Living Lahaina," he laughed.
"Because it's not 'Maui Fever'! It's funny and entertaining, and it'll keep you on the edge of your seat, and it just shows how great a life you can have as a surf instructor."