Shaper Reno Abellira details his fight with another shaping great…
Three days ago, we were gifted a fine blood feud between the master shaper Reno Abellira, and surf historian and former Surfer magazine editor, Matt Warshaw.
A combined age of one hundred twenty years! Walking frames at twenty paces etc.
Towards the end of that piece, I mentioned a little push-and-shoving that may’ve happened between Reno and another very well-known shaper in San Clemente.
Today, Reno responds in an exquisitely written open letter to BeachGrit. Note: the name of the other shaper has been removed because, oowee, we’ll be spending the next five years in court defending a defamation suit if we threw his name into the mix. (He was contacted but didn’t want to respond publicly .)
Let us have it, Reno.
Dear BeachGrit and Mr.D Rielly,
What is it about the Australian press that is still mired in muckraking sensationalist yellow journalism, only now it is an online less editable version of sports print and the venerably published (ASL an ASW) magazines of yore.
It is my firm impression that the only surf journalist of the whole lot of of current wannabes is still me ol china that wily codger Phil (the “Thrill”) Jarratt, God bless ‘im always.
As to the due diligence Warshaw lacked in his bio of me in EOS, was more than just the part regarding my Dad. To wit: my first surfing experience was as a toddler at two-and-a-half with my beloved uncle Kui Lee who was then an active Beachboy at Waikiki. Never forgot the sounds/vibrations of the chatter of the water under the board as he stroked out to the lineup at four-foot Canoes. He pulled me to my feet briefly the swung above his shoulder to make my simulate flight above him. That was the start not at four years old.
I was twelve when my mother insisted that my father buy my first board, a navy blue pigment paneled real Honolulu made Dale Velzy not 11 years old. I won $600.00 as Champ for the Hawaii nosedriding contest not a measly $200.00 as published in EOS.
Promptly bought a $300.00 round trip ticket to attend the ’66 World comp in San Diego as a Hawaii team alternate. My 5’7″ fish I brought to OZ as part of my six board quiver in ’75 and ’76 did not have keel fins (hated them and thought they tracked way too much) but had a template that had more of a normal pivot outline placed near the fluted wings in that design.
I don’t know what Warshaw means by saying I was “well removed from the surf scene by the “80’s” as I continued to actively compete in all of the pro events on the N.Shore. My last Duke event was in ’84 (if you count back from that one I had the honor of 12 previous invitations) 13 Duke trophies in total.
I was invited to all the Pipeline Master’s from it’s inception in’71 through ’83. I stopped traveling to compete in’80 with the arrival of my one and only child Reno Michael Abellira.
Unfortunately, less than a year later I went through a devastating separation/very public divorce on the N. Shore from my wife of 15 years when I promptly became a single parent for the duration of his childhood.
Once and for all I never “disappeared for several months fleeing Prosecution or the Authorities at all ever.” In ’92, I was indicted along with seven other men for three counts for the Federal crimes of racketeering (the RICO Act) specifically Possession with Intent to distribute of four kilos of Cocaine and over 27 pounds of marijuana that had been control delivered by the U.S Postal Service and D.E.A agents to an address in suburban Honolulu.
At that moment in time, I was living what one might consider a happy existence on upcountry Maui. The notice for my arraignment was pinned to my refrigerator in my Haiku cottage. It read “if you know what is good for you, you will be present in Honolulu Federal court by noon the following day” of which I did after hastily hiring a lawyer that afternoon.
Unfortunately again, the Honolulu Advertiser had a column that mentioned on page four the arrest and apprehension of the seven Oahu men. The last sentence of which said “still at large is former surfing champion, Reno Abellira.” Friends read me that column that afternoon and from there the rumor mill via the “Coconut Wireless” spewed like a scene Dante’s Inferno.
Apparently a dear friend laughingly mentioned to his inner circle of devotees that wouldn’t it be amusing if Reno got busted at the airport on the lam dressed as a woman with the kilos I was running with stuffed in my brassiere! Mahalo so much!
That mushroomed and bloomed to dark truth for most of the surfing world where the surf mags (notably Surfing who had an intern send an APB for my capture immediately) I say once and for all, I was never ever dressed as a woman running from the law.
The Honolulu news anchor Tina Shelton immediately made me the kingpin of the drug ring for the sake of color on the news. Inside Halawa prison high-security pod (where all FederaI detainees were housed for the lack of a Fed prison in Hawaii at all at the time) watched myself dropping in at the Bay and in front of the court building in a suit with my attorney for weeks.
Bottom line? I was acquitted (found innocent) of all three counts of the indictment nine-and-a-half months later at trial (the jury did however find me guilty of simple possession) as I did admit in open court testimony to drug use during the time period. It is no excuse, but who of the surfing crowd did not party in the eighties I ask?
On the day of my acquittal I was released a free man yet the only other indictee was found guilty on his counts and sent to lockup for 14 years. Nothing in the paper or the news of the acquittal itself. Rumors swirled on that I had turned snitch to get out yet everything that happened is a matter of legal and public record.
My clothing royalty agreement lasted six years from ’75 to ’81. Short-lived does not describe appropriately my venture there. How long was Warshaw’s editor job at Surfer I ask? Two maybe three years? That is perfectly short lived compared to Paul Holmes who did nine or ten years at the helm of surfing’s Bible.
I found him in wet snoring mess in the middle of the day in an overheated Kombi bus. Slapped him on the butt which awoke this snarling mess of swinging arms and spewing threats of “I almost knocked my wife out for doing the same by waking me like that!! You fucker!”
Is Brutus one of your sources for the supposed shoving match between the unnamed other master shaper Derek? It is in fact (censored) whose poor bi-polar and violent behavior goes unmedicated and unchecked with doses of wine filled snap outs to this old friend who showed concern when I found him in wet snoring mess in the middle of the day in an overheated Kombi bus. Slapped him on the butt which awoke this snarling mess of swinging arms and spewing threats of “I almost knocked my wife out for doing the same by waking me like that!! You fucker!”
Slams the door and nearly crushes my fingers in the doing, climbs spastically into the driver seat and spins out of the parking lot. The day before this I had been giving him a lomi-lomi percussion massage in his borrowed office from another master shaper who is truly that and more. We had shared dinner the very evening previous.
Two days later I went to check in on him and growled and sneered at me that I had told certain people I work with to fuck off. A total and complete fabrication from his dementia but that he nonetheless forwarded as true. So yes we argued in private in his borrowed shaping room from said master shaper and it came to a head when I asked for an apology as a man and and old dear friend. He screamed at me to fuck off repeatedly as he shook his fists in my face at close range and told him yes he had better think twice about coming to Hawaii
I turned to leave and here is the kicker. He elbowed me in the back full force I am about 135 pounds and (censored) has now at least 50 pounds above that. I was thrown forward but did not hit the floor or stumble with him at my back still screaming to fuck off.
(Censored) is not a well puppy and truth be said he is no master shaper at all. He cannot shape a decent gun from a blank if you paid him. They are all program files he has someone else do for him.
Brutus you spineless wimp, print a real picture of yourself instead of the shadow figure you have going on. Either that or stop hiding behind (Censored)’s skirt unless that is where you really belong ?
Waves of Truth, Reno Abellira.