"Dane was on the cutting edge of progression, inventing the backside pig dog technique at Pipe. A truly gifted tuberider."
A few days ago, obits started appearing for the great Hawaiian surfer Dane Kealoha, who would’ve been the state’s first world champ in 1983 if not for the bloodymindedness of the then ASP.
While unsubstantiated rumours are our bread and butter, this one was a little more serious, so I rang around his pals and found out that Kealoha, while still alive, was desperately battling a late-stage cancer.
Sadly, Dane Kealoha passed away earlier today.
The shaper and former top competitor Maurice Cole as well as the 1977 world champ Shaun Tomson had written movingly of a pal they’d known for half-a-century.
“Sitting in the airport on my way to France for a month,” wrote Cole. “I just found out that brother Dane is not travelling very well at the moment so putting it out there he needs lots of prayer ! Been working like crazy the last few weeks , that’s why I’ve been a bit quiet all orders done will be back in five weeks from month before I go to J Bay. The photo was taken of Dane and I in the 80s at Burleigh , pretty wild day’s but we surfed even wilder.”
View this post on Instagram
“When I first met Dane back in 1976, he immediately became one of my favorite surfers – absolute raw power and foot to the floor attitude. No close together ballerina feet softness, but a powerful and beautiful classically pure Hawaiian style, charting back to the great Eddie Aikau,” wrote Tomson.
“Dane was on the cutting edge of progression – inventing the backside pig dog technique at Pipe and winning the Masters in 1983, and carving up Backdoor and Sunset with creativity and ferocity.
“He was a truly gifted tube-rider, attacking the spinning tunnels with machismo, commitment and an attacking rhythm like a Hawaiian warrior going into battle.
“At the dawn of pro surfing and the start of the twin fin era at the Stubbies event in Australia, I watched Dane catch a wave at high tide 2 foot Burleigh Heads. There was barely enough clearance between his twin fins and the rocks as he leapt to his feet and started to pump down the line – faster and faster like there was a turbo beneath his feet – I had never seen anyone generate that type of speed on such a small wave – in fact, on any wave.
“I had won the World Title a few months before on my single fin and looked down at it – I knew it was instantly obsolete in small waves.
View this post on Instagram
Dane’s run-in with the ASP in ’83 ended a career spanning 1978 through 1982 where he finished, ninth, fourth, second, third and sixth.
In 1983, y’see, the ASP removed their sanctioning of the three Hawaiian events and banned ASP surfers from competing.
Dane said fuck it, won two of the three events, including the Pipe Masters and the Duke at Sunset, and was subsequently fined a thousand bucks, which he refused to pay.
Stripped of his tour points, Dane, then only twenty five, quit pro surfing and all full-time competition.