Also, a surprise appearance by Kelly Slater!
A very fine, informative think piece on Hawaii, its place in surfing and its place in reality, appears in The New York Times today and well worth a read. Oh, we surfers, we cranks and ne’rdowells, are well versed in the nut, here. Hawaiians surf for Hawaii, Kolohe Andino surfs for America and never the twain shall meet.
Until, that is, they all drape themselves in American, not Hawaiian, red, white and blue for this summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.
“There’s a little bit of tension with that, going into the Olympics under a U.S.A. flag,” John John Florence told the journalist whilst sitting on his Pipeline-fronting porch. “I don’t want to divide at all. I’m not anti-anything. I’m pro-Hawaii.”
“I’d be honored to represent U.S.A., obviously, but I would prefer to represent Hawaii if I went there,” Seth Moniz said between Triple Crown heats. “I do wish we could have a voice or representation. Me and other Hawaiian surfers, maybe we have to make a push for that, to have the Hawaiian flag at the Olympics.”
“I’m really proud that I do have a little bit of Hawaiian blood, so I feel a connection to the people here, and the waters,” Carissa Moore said, sipping coffee in Honolulu, recounting competing in an International Surfing Association event in 2019 and the quiet discomfort it caused. “I was totally wrapped in the Hawaiian flag, but we had U.S.A. shirts on,” Moore said. “It felt like I was betraying Hawaii. It was weird.”
The ISA’s chief, Fernando Aguerre, understands the unique place Hawaii holds in our cranky ne’rdowell hearts but, even though his son’s middle name is Kahanamoku, claims his hands are tied. “Hawaii is different within the surfing world. But in the geopolitical world, Hawaii is part of the United States.”
It doesn’t sound like he tried very hard to carve out a place for Hawaii as The New York Times piece details the fact that creating a separate team was never seriously considered by the International Olympic Committee.
No, doesn’t sound like it at all much to Kelly Slater’s chagrin who surprisingly boiled the whole debate down to his own personal interests.
“If that happened (Hawaii given its own place),” the world’s greatest surfer said, “I’m in the Olympics.”