Heavywater Editor Brandon Lee, left, and Finance Director Rob Alston -- shown with their longboards at Kewalo Basin -- built their new publication on a love of surfing.

New magazine explores
world of big-wave surfing

Soon to be monthly, isle-based Heavywater
joins the gnarly niche


Wednesday, August 18, 2004

The publication formerly known as Board Stories magazine is now called Free Surf magazine. It was incorrectly called Free Water in a story Monday on Page D1.

The Honolulu Star-Bulletin strives to make its news report fair and accurate. If you have a question or comment about news coverage, call Editor Frank Bridgewater at 529-4791 or email him at corrections@starbulletin.com.

Browse the magazine rack at almost any local retailer, and you can't miss them -- publications with titles like Surfer, Surfing, Longboard and Transworld Surf. Surfing and surf culture continue to enjoy a surge in popularity, both on the mainland and around the world.

This month, three local entrepreneurs hope to remind readers of Hawaii's prominence as the birthplace of the sport with the launch of a new publication, Heavywater magazine.

For Editor Brandon Lee, Advertising/Marketing Director Reid Inouye and Finance Director Rob Alston, the decision to start the magazine builds on their lifetime passion for the ancient Hawaiian sport of kings.

"We've watched surfing on television since the days of Barton Lynch, when the Gotcha Pro was still at Sandy Beach," said Alston. "I've been looking at surf magazines since I was 6 or 7."

Although you might not recognize Inouye's name, it's nearly impossible to take part in the local surf scene without being affected by his work. Along with serving as executive producer of "Billabong Surf TV," Inouye promotes all of the biggest contests outside of the Triple Crown of Surf.

"He's got his finger on the pulse of the surf industry," Alston said. "When business owners in the industry and potential advertisers pick up the magazine, they'll (recognize) Reid."

On Aug. 25 the three will celebrate the magazine's launch with an 18-and-over party at the Hard Rock Cafe, starting at 10 p.m. and featuring a live performance by Ooklah the Moc.

IT WAS WHILE covering surf contests as a freelance writer for the Star-Bulletin that Lee first started working with Inouye. After leaving his position as managing editor for Board Stories magazine (now known as Free Water magazine), Lee approached Inouye with the idea of starting another publication.

"I'd been covering Reid's events for the last five years," he said. "We met up at one of the Sunset events over the winter, and we kind of just started talking."

Once Inouye was on board, Lee realized they needed one more person involved in the new venture.

Inouye had the personal relationships and connections necessary to open doors and get the industry's attention, while Lee had the journalistic experience of covering various water sports. But they still needed someone with a solid business acumen to complement their individual strengths.

So Lee turned to Alston, his former classmate at Punahou who also has ownership interests in three other local businesses.

"I've known Rob since we were 12 or so," said Lee. "He has a wealth of experience that I felt would be really valuable.

"I just knew this would be a good team."

FLIP THROUGH the pages of Heavywater magazine's preview issue, and you'll find many of the elements that make other surfing magazines popular.

One of the first features readers will come across is a double-page photo of an incredibly gnarly break in Teahupoo, Tahiti. Respected surf photographers like Warren Bolster, Erik Aeder, Mark Berkowitz and Paul Teruya have been enlisted to help provide pictures for the magazine.

There are also interviews with local notables Bonga Perkins and Joey "The Gazelle" Cabell, and a feature on the popular Maui surf break known as "Jaws."

Oh, and don't forget about the pull-out centerfold shot of inaugural "Heavywater Girl" Kehaulani Lee.

"We're aiming to be the Maxim of the surfing industry," Lee said. "We're on the edge ... maybe make you raise your eyebrows a little bit.

"We're definitely not Good Housekeeping, so to speak."

While there will be an ample amount of eye candy for readers to enjoy, there will also be a variety of stories that cover not only the local surf scene, but other water sports popular with island residents.

"We're surfers first, but I've also paddled in my lifetime," said Lee. "There are a ton of other people doing a ton of other things besides surfing -- if something heavy is going on, we want to know about it, and we want to spread the word."

The magazine is published by a company called H3O, which, despite its name, has no connection to the surf magazine H30 that went out of business several years ago.

Heavywater will follow this month's preview with issues in October and December. Alston, Inouye and Lee aim to start publishing monthly by January.

With 10,000 copies of the preview issue being distributed to local surf shops, bars and restaurants on Oahu, Maui, Kauai and the Big Island, Lee hopes that others will be as excited about their new offering as those he's already approached.

"The surfers we've talked to are super-stoked about what we're doing," he said. "These guys ... put their lives on the line just like everyone else, but they don't get any ink.

"We're giving the local people a chance to crack into the surf scene."

Alston just wants people to give them a chance.

"What I want people to do is pick it up and read it," he said. "They've got to pick it up and read it, because if they read it, they will enjoy it."

Heavywater Magazine

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