Duke’s OceanFest crowned two surfing champions yesterday. Makaha’s Kamu Auwae, 30, won the highly competitive Kicker Audio presents the Toes On the Nose Rabbit Kekai Hawaiian Longboard Classic men’s division. On the women’s side, California’s Julie Whitegon, 45, narrowly captured the Gidget’s Pro title.
"The Duke’s OceanFest is always a nice event to come to for two reasons," explained Whitegon. "One, it’s in Hawaii and I always look forward to coming out here, and No. 2, the feeling of aloha just surrounds you. This is a great event."
Whitegon is familiar with the winner’s stage at Kuhio Beach. This is her third OceanFest pro longboard victory. She also has won the amateur longboard division here. The Californian edged former world longboard champ Joy Monahan.
"I thought (Monahan) got better waves than I did. I might have gotten smaller waves than her, but apparently did better maneuvers," said Whitegon, who strung together high-scoring combinations of noserides and cutbacks. "I thought I got third place today, and I can’t believe I won."
Finishing third was Lindsay Steinriede. Ashley Ahina claimed fourth.
The men’s division was much more competitive than the Gidget Pro. Fourth-place finisher Kai Sallas and third-place finisher Keegan Edwards each were called for interference in the 45-minute final heat. Therefore, both Waikiki locals were only able to count half of their highest rides to their two-wave total. Sallas, Edwards and runner-up Duane DeSoto aggressively paddle-battled each other throughout the final.
This left the door open for Auwae to capture the win.
"Paddle-battling with Duane, Kai and Keegan — they’re the hardest competitors out there, so my strategy was just to stay out of trouble and just get my two solid waves and just do as much turns as I could," Auwae said.
Auwae’s plan worked perfectly. He won with hang fives, hang 10s and backing up those noserides with high-speed, roundhouse cutbacks.
Auwae said the victory was special because this was the first time his newborn baby boy had spent a full day at the beach.
"I just got my new son, he just made 2 months and to be here with him at the beach and see him is just an extra bonus," Auwae said. "Winning just makes my whole week good — I’ll always remember this."
Duke’s OceanFest continues today with the Hawaiian Airlines Duke’s Legend Surf Classic and the C4 Waterman SUP Surf-Off.
All of the festivities can be seen live on Oceanic Time Warner Cable channels 250 and HD1250.