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Star-Bulletin Sports

Monday, June 19, 2000


Rabbit Kekai shows
vintage form again

By Kalani Wilhelm
Special to the Star-Bulletin


It was appropriate that - on a day when families around the country celebrated Father's Day -sone of the founding fathers of Hawaii longboarding did his thing.

In consistent 3-foot surf, veteran waterman Rabbit Kekai stood out among the more than 80 longboarders that hit the south shore of Oahu on yesterday's final day of the 12-division Toes to the Nose at the Bowl surf meet at Ala Moana Bowls.

Yesterday's competition belonged to Kekai, who learned the ways of the water from the legendary Duke Kahanamoku as a child. Kekai has since given pointers to current surfing stars such as Kelly Slater, Derek Ho and Sunny Garcia.

Kekai proved that with age comes experience by winning the 60-and-over division.

"I didn't expect to win," said Kekai, who has been surfing for seven decades in Hawaii. "The other guys had the bigger waves, but I think I did the better maneuvers."

When Rabbit wasn't in the water he was busy assisting staff members with contestant check-ins and providing words of wisdom.

"It's payback time," he said. "You gotta give back to the kids, teach them all the good things about the sport.

"What I saw today out of the young kids, the future is in good hands."

The future was in the keiki competitions. Makaha's Kainalu Froiseth won the 14-and-under Menehune division using one of his favorite maneuvers --the floater.

"I liked my floaters today," said Froiseth, 13.

Fourteen-year-old Miku Uemura, also from Makaha, took the Junior Wahine crown relying on her nose-rides.

"Yesterday we came down and it (the water) was totally flat," Uemura said. "I felt real sorry for the pros because there was nothing you can do with those waves.

"But today the water was perfect."

"They (the pros) are a good influence because we see them do the moves, then we want to try it, too," said Froiseth, already a three-year veteran of surf contests. "It makes us get better."

Kevin Meyer won the new Weekend Warrior division and Jamie Ballenger was top surfers in the new 225-pounds-and-over division.

Makaha's Desire Desoto won the Wahine division in some of the day's biggest waves.

As the contest ended, Kekai was asked if he'll ever rack his longboard for good.

"I can't stop now," said Kekai. "I'm looking at quitting when I'm a hundred."

The meet was the opening event of a four- contest series sponsored by Toes on the Nose surfwear and the Ocean Club.

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