Nahina tops at Uemura Classic


POSTED: Saturday, July 25, 2009

The China Uemura Longboard Surfing Classic celebrated its silver anniversary with 4- to 6-foot wave face heights at Queen's Beach yesterday.

Wahiawa's Kapono Nahina, 29, made the best use of the great surf to win the highly competitive pro-am division.

“;This was probably the best waves we had for this event in years,”; said Nahina, who won $1,500 for his first-place finish. “;There's head-high ones that go all the way through and it's really fun out there.”;

The pro-am final was a three-man heat because the fourth finalist, Keegan Edwards, had to fly to Japan for a World Longboard Tour event. Edwards was relegated to fourth place, but still won $400.

Kekoa Auwae claimed third place and $500 while runner-up and $1,000 went to Nelson Ahina.

Nahina beat the competition with a progressive approach to longboarding—hitting the lip whenever possible and laying down quick and powerful cutbacks on the peeling rights. While traditional longboarding calls for more noseriding on the tip of the board, the judges gave Nahina the nod for his high-performance surfing from the back half of his green Town & Country 9-footer.

“;I rather surf off the tail because I like doing turns rather than noseriding, but you gotta mix it up,”; said Nahina, who earned a combined two-wave total of 16.8 out of a possible 20 points.

His highest-scoring ride, a 9.0 out of a possible 10, came in the form of roping a head-high, right-breaking wave. Nahina did a big white water climb floater off the take off and proceeded to rip, tear and lacerate the wave with high-speed cutbacks.

“;I actually thought it was a bad choice of waves,”; conceded Nahina of the 9.0 ride. “;But, it actually doubled-up and let me do a couple of turns.”;

Nahina competed in the China's Longboard Classic for the last decade and says this contest is one of the most anticipated longboard events in Hawaii. This year, contest directors were fortunate to score a nice-sized south swell for the first two days of competition.

“;The waves are good,”; said Kekoa Uemura, who is China's son. “;The best waves we've had for this contest in the last six years.”;

Kekoa finished runner-up in the stand-up paddle division yesterday behind surfboard shaper Robin Johnston. Johnston rode a relatively shorter stand-up board to beat Uemura, Kekoa Auwae, who finished third, and Scott Fong in the men's SUP finals.

On the women's side, Honolulu's Jen Koki triumphed in the SUP final over Candice Appleby in second, Geodee Clark in third and Kawehi Whitford in fourth.