There are many lessons to be learned from being on the water, some harder than others, and many unwritten.
Perhaps the No. 1 rule of the latter? Catch a wave, because surfers don’t paddle in.
That was what Walter Guild remembers being told by his father Robert "Rab" when they were in the lineup at Tracks off Nanakuli.
"Here I was a young kid, freezing and cold, sitting out on the lineup and saying I want to go in, I want to go in," Guild said. "He said, ‘Well, then catch a wave, because surfers don’t paddle in.’
"My first water memory probably is my first time surfing, when I was about my son’s age (Ryder is 3), getting pushed out on a board by my dad at Tracks, and I was by myself. I went to turn the board around and a wave hit it and it hit me in the teeth. That is a memory that has stuck with me."
And so has the love of the ocean for the 58-year-old Guild, one of four who will be inducted into the Hawaii Waterman Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2015. (Monday’s ceremony was postponed due to inclement weather and will be rescheduled for a later date.) The HOF’s sixth class brings the number of inductees to 35 representing Hawaii’s water royalty, among them Duke Kahanamoku, Eddie Aikau, Fred Hemmings, Rell Sunn, Prince Kuhio and Princess Ka’iulani.
For Guild, his selection is very personal, as it also honors his family tree that includes the Macfarlane, Flanders, Philpotts and Campbell branches. Some might call the branches ‘iako — spars that connect an outrigger canoe to its ama (float) — because so many are connected to water and water sports.
HAWAII WATERMAN HALL OF FAME
2015 Induction Dinner
» Postponed until a later date due to weather
There’s Commodore Clarence W. Macfarlane, who helped found one of the oldest ongoing ocean races in the world, the Transpacific Yacht Race from California to Honolulu, in 1906. The Hawaii Commodores Association still awards the Macfarlane Trophy for its Yachtsperson of the Year.
There’s Guild’s late grandmother Muriel Macfarlane Flanders, known for her music and philanthropy. Her endowed scholarship was one of the first established for the Outrigger Duke Kahanamoku Foundation.
And there’s the Outrigger Canoe Club’s Walter J. Macfarlane Regatta, held on July 4 in Waikiki for the 73rd consecutive time this year. It’s one of the longest-running canoe races in Hawaii and is named for Guild’s great-uncle, a former club president who died of typhoid at age 36 in the 1940s.
"The honor of getting this award from the family perspective is huge," said Guild, whose sister Di was one of the first female coaches at Outrigger and an outstanding paddler as well. "We
lived under the shadow of the Walter Mac Fourth of July races and that’s a big deal. The ODKF is really something our family supported from the outset. My grandmother was a tremendous supporter in the days when it was a small, fledgling organization with noble goals but not a lot of resources.
"There are Walters on both sides of the family. Being the oldest boy of my generation I carry the name with pride."
Guild also carried on the family tradition of paddling excellence, one that included his father being part of Kahanamoku’s crews at Outrigger. Guild competed in 17 Molokai Hoe races, winning eight times, including 1990 in Kaoloa, the last koa canoe to cross the finish line first.
Now a sales representative for Heyer & Associates who is involved in the Park Lane Ala Moana condo development, Guild is better known for his OC-6 and OC-1 canoe-building innovations, as we
ll as creating, marketing and promoting various paddling events.
"I really do like where the sport has gone in my lifetime. It’s pretty amazing," said Guild, a former lineman for the Hawaii football team (1978-79). "One of the greatest things I’ve been able to do is help take the sport to Tonga, to Hamilton Island, go to the East Coast and the Liberty Challenge.
"A lot of the events that were created, like the King Kamehameha Canoe Surfing Cup, the Ka’iwi Challenge Relay, were things that came out of friends wanting to do things with friends. The only thing I’m sad about is the body no longer being able to do things I used to enjoy, like surfing in big waves comfortably. But if it all ended today, I wouldn’t have a complaint."
OTHER WATERMAN HALL OF FAME INDUCTEES
» Joey Cabell, one of the top surfers of the 1960s who won the Makaha International three time. He was part of the Duke Kahanamoku Surf Team that, along with Fred Hemmings, Paul Straugh and the late Butch Van Artsdalen, traveled the world with Kahanamoku in the 1960s as ambassadors of the sport. The Encyclopedia of Surfing lists him as "arguably the finest all-around surfer of the ’60s, and certainly the decade’s best in international competition."
» Duane DeSoto, former world longboard champion from Makaha who
, in 2008, founded Na Kama Kai, a nonprofit organization that educates children on everything ocean at no charge. He also is part of the Malama Honua world voyage of the Hokule’a and played the role of Kahanamoku at last February’s 100th anniversary of Kahanamoku’s introducing surfing to Australia at Freshwater Bay.
» Soichi Sakamoto, the legendary late swim coach from Maui who created the "Three-Year Swim Club" in 1937 with the goal of his swimmers competing in the 1940 Olympics. The 1940 and ’44 Games were canceled due to World War II, but he continued to train swimmers, including the late Bill Smith, who went on to win gold at the 1948 Olympics in London. Sakamoto went on to coach at Hawaii from 1948 until 1966 and produced several more Olympic medalists until his retirement.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story misspelled Paul Straugh’s last name.