Should Hawaii be a separate country and other such things!
Hawaii is our Shangri-la. The stuff our dreams are made of. Have you been? Have you walked that sacred soil? Been baptized in that holy water? It’s place in surf culture/history is undeniable. Let’s chat about it’s competitive landscape, shall we?
I sat down recently with Surfing Magazine’s Beau Flemister and we discussed many things as it relates to the WSL, Olympics etc. Fascinating? Certainly. Read here!
Scene opens at Starbucks…
Beau: Hi Chas, have a seat. You want a coffee?
Chas: Aloha aina, Beau! From here? Hell no!
B: [laughs] Mine’s delicious. Kona coffee, obviously. Best stuff in the world. Speaking of which, let’s get into it: I believe Hawaii should stay its own sovereign surfing nation. The HAW abbreviation should stay.
C: Of course you’re on the side of Hawaii. You’re Hawaiian, right? Flemister…that’s the ancient Hawaiian term for…lost Flemish tribe of Niihau. Just kidding, so on what basis?
B: The original reasoning behind the “HAW” distinction stems from the Makaha International Surfing Championships, the first surfing world championship, so to speak. And the first Makaha contest ran in 1954, before Hawaii was an official state of the Union, so Hawaiians classified themselves as such — a different entity than the Mainland — and then it just carried over to now.
C: So, is that really true, though? Is that really a fact?
B: Absolutely, it is. You disagree with the oracle and sage Matt Warshaw and his sacred electronic text, The Encyclopedia of Surfing…dot com?
C: Well, I think that the HAW is how Rabbit Bartholomew first delineated it. I think that he gave Hawaii its own slot in the contest and it was just accepted. That’s what I heard. But you or Matt Warshaw could be right.
B: So you don’t buy the “before it was a state” theory? You think that Rabbit just did it to kiss up to Hawaiians?
C: Yes, to appease them. I think that Rabbit had a little Stockholm syndrome. I honestly think that he came to love the oppressor [Hawaiians] after taking so much shit for so long. When I say shit, I mean almost getting killed by Da Hui like in Bustin’ Down the Door. But I also think Rabbit’s relationship with Hawaii is too tangled to ever really know what’s going on or how he feels or why the HAW delineation happened. I’m sure that he loves Hawaii but there’s probably a fine line between what’s appeasement and what’s respect. But I would say that it’s appeasement.
B: Well, despite the dubious origin story, I’d say that Hawaii has and always has had enough good surfers to sustain itself as a separated surfing superpower. Hawaiians created the damn sport and were practicing it for centuries before it was spread globally. One could maybe say that surfing existed in Hawaii before the United States was even a country. But I’d have to consult with Matt Warshaw on that.
C: Let’s look at it this way: If Hawaii wanted to secede and become a sovereign nation, they’d have good reason to, what with the overthrow of their monarchy and the division of land by missionary families, but as long as they’re a state, then Hawaii is a part of America as far as I’m concerned. I think the surf world’s artificial respect for their “nation” is silly. Especially when Hawaii’s current guys on tour were mostly Caucasian. John John, Dusty Payne, Seabass. It’s not like giving Hawaii its own delineation is helping actual Hawaiians or guys with Hawaiian blood to get on tour. If anyone is prospering it’s just the haoles from that artificial delineation. Like, I could see how if a Duke Kahanamoku-type surfer got on tour again, Hawaii would want to claim him as a figure. Or, some Hawaiian with a Hawaiian name and Hawaiian blood. But to see the Hawaiian flag next to John John Florence’s face…does that make actual Hawaiians proud?