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mar 19 2009

Tonight in Oahu: Talking surfing with star Rabbit Kekai

When I left Oahu after living there for three years, I knew I'd miss it every day. And I do. Usually it's the obvious things: the perfect waves; the pineapple scent in the air as you drive to the North Shore; the fact that, unlike in New York, there's zero chance of snow in March. Today, though, the thing that's making me long to go back is a lecture series. Not exactly romantic, I know, but hear me out.

On the third Thursday of every month, Chinatown Boardroom—one of the coolest shops on the island, but more on that in a second—hosts a Surf Discussion Series. Big names in the surf world come to the shop and, as co-owner Eric Walden puts it, "talk story" with the crowd. For any surfer, the list of people who've spoken so far is as drool-worthy as a perfect day at Pipeline: Fred Van Dyke, Kimo Hollinger, Jock Sutherland. Tonight, Rabbit Kekai is the guest of honor, and if someone handed me a ticket this instant and told me I could get there in time to catch him, I'd end this blog post right now.

I've been a little bit obsessed with Kekai ever since I saw him on the beach in Waikiki years ago. I was new to surfing and didn't have the slightest idea who he was until the guy I rented my board from pointed him out and gave me the Cliff's Notes version of the legend: He learned to surf from Duke Kahanamoku; he's won lots and lots of surfing titles; he started, along with some other guys, the Waikiki Surf Club. All very cool, but the thing I love about him is that, at 89, he's still a permanent fixture in Waikiki—not only surfing, but also teaching kids to ride the waves.

Anyone even slightly interested in surfing and lucky enough to live on Oahu would be crazy not to go to the discussion tonight. And while you're there, check out the shop. Owners Eric and Jackie Walden are almost more curators than shop owners, bringing in a constantly changing mix of what they call surf-culture art: prints, surfboards (some for show, some for riding), jewelry, limited-run t-shirts. The place is part gallery, part surf shop, and it's nearly impossible to leave without buying something (almost everything in the shop is for sale).

Chinatown Boardroom

1160 Nuuanu Ave.

Oahu, Hawaii

808/585-7200

Surf Discussion Series, 6:30pm–7:30pm, free

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Note:This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.

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