With teachers on strike and nowhere to go, Hawai’i’s young rippers stayed on the North Shore of O’ahu.
By Pete Johnson
The basic theme of spring break has always been “School’s out and students just want to cut loose.” Spring Break 2001 became a high school kid’s dream come true in Hawai’i when teachers decided not to come back to school after the break. Hawai’ian schoolteachers lengthened the holiday by going on strike due to inadequate pay. Even though most students felt sympathy for the teachers, the spring-break celebrations continued.
On the South Shore of O’ahu, teenagers were boasting about all-night parties that lasted ’til dawn. The downside was that doctors at Queens Hospital reported a record number of teenage trauma cases, mostly caused by drivers being “under the influence.” Luckily, no one died.
Over on the North Shore, the beach scene at Waimea Bay got a little chaotic on day one of the teachers’ strike: With so many kids there from different schools, a few fistfights broke out. One lunatic actually grabbed a baseball bat and chased people around. Heroically, the lifeguards on duty were able to disarm the little rascal. Of course, the spring-break surf spots were in full swing. The favorite “spring break” breaks were Laniakea, Backdoor, Sunset, Pupukea, Ehukai, and Rocky Point. No serious injuries were reported in the surf, either.
Down at Turtle Bay, the NSSA Hawai’i Regional took place. Students from all over the island chain gathered to see who’d qualify to make the prestigious trip to California for the NSSA National Championships. I couldn’t help but see the similarity between today’s amateur surfing and the recent “boy band” craze. Take a good-looking kid with some surfing talent, and in step the promoters: “I think I can make you a star, but you’re going to have to change your style, surf this spot more, and surf your spot less. Never do that move in a heat, you’ll have to meet this guy, move your foot a little this way, don’t act like that-act like this.” There’s something a bit wrong with too much guidance-it stifles originality. But make no mistake, there’re still some kids doing it their own way, not just lip-synching someone else’s lyrics.
Some heavy standouts at Turtle Bay included Tom Clarke, Kyle Ramey, Dustin Cuizon, Nathan Carroll, Hank Gaskell, Kekoa Bacalso, T.J. Barron, and Joel Centeio. Sena Seramur swooped up the Women’s division. Nathan Carroll earned 500 dollars as the top performer in Haleiwa Joe’s air show and as the winner of the Open Men’s division. His photo will be on this year’s NSSA Hawai’i T-shirt, and he joins past winners including Andy Irons and Kalani Robb. So to summarize this past spring break in Hawai’i: Surfing’s way safer than going to parties, the NSSA Regionals was a giant success with clear leaders emerging from the contest, today’s amateur surfing sometimes resembles “boy bands”-just like Making The Band on ABC-and don’t mess with the lifeguards. Sometimes you get lucky and teachers don’t show up to school.
The NSSA Popularity Poll
(Voted on by contestants for the NSSA Hawai’i yearbook.)
1. Most likely to succeed (make the WCT): Joel Centeio, Dustin Cuizon, and Nathan Carroll
2. Most likely to be a photo star: Hank Gaskell and Sean Moody
3. Most intelligent: Flynn Novak
4. Most liked by teachers/judges: T.J. Barron, Dustin Cuizon
5. Biggest ladies’ man: Fred Patacchia, even though he’s not in the NSSA anymore.
Most Embarrassing Moments At School
“I don’t know about school, but Chas pulled my wetsuit down at a NSSA contest the other day.”
“I was wearing those roller shoes in my math class and I tripped over a cord-it was pretty funny.”
“I sat in bird turd the other day.”
“A fly landed on my lunch, and somehow I ended up eating iit.”
“One day I was peeing in the school bathroom in one of the stand-up stalls, and my buddy pushed me into it. I peed all over myself. I had to go to the office, wash off, and change into these itty-bitty girls’ shorts that barely covered my private parts. The worst part was it happened at 8:30 in the morning. I had to wear those shorts all day long.”
What Really Happened
The following’s an interview with John-John Florence (age eight), Thomas Clarke (age ten), and Chas Chidester (age twelve):
Pete Johnson: What surf breaks did you surf this spring break?
John John Florence: Pipe, V-Land, Ehukai, Backdoor, Haleiwa, and the West Side of O’ahu.
Did he leave anything out?
Thomas Clarke: Off the Wall, Logs, and Rocky rights.
Chas Chidester: It all depends on what swell direction.
Let’s talk about those North Shore spots-who dominates V-Land?
All three: Perry Dane.
Who dominates Pipeline?
TC: Gerry Lopez.
CC: Gerry and Braden Dias.
JJF: Tamayo Perry.
Who are your favorite surfers?
JJF: Bruce Irons, Pat O’Connell, and my mom.
TC: The Irons brothers and the Malloy brothers.
JJF: I like the Malloy brothers, too.
CC: The Irons brothers and my dad.
Who are the best guys coming up?
All three: Joel Centeio, Nathan Carroll, and Dustin Cuizon.
Who’s the best girl surfer at your school?
TC: Coco Ho.
Who’s the most beautiful girl in the world?
JJF: My mom.
TC: My mom.
CC: Definitely my mom.
When you grow up, what do you want to be besides a pro surfer?
JJF: A pro skateboarder.
TC: A pro skateboarder.
CC: A swimmer.
Who’d win this wrestling match: Rob Machado and Bruce Irons versus Kelly Slater and Kalani Robb?
CC: Rob and Bruce.
TC: Kelly and Kalani.
JJF: Rob and Bruce.
Any advice for people coming to surf the North Shore?
TC: Yeah, they should try to stay away from big waves, strong currents, and listen to the lifeguards.
“Spring Break 2001 became a high school kid’s dream come true in Hawai’i when teachers decided not to come back to school after the break.”
“The favorite “spring break” breaks were Laniakea, Backdoor, Sunset, Pupukea, Ehukai, and Rocky Point.”
“There’s something a bit wrong with too much guidance-it stifles originality.”
“Surfing’s way safer than going to parties.”