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Surfing Legends

Many surfing legends come down to modern times through Hawaiian chants. One is of Kelea, a beautiful woman of Maui who was an accomplished surfrider. She was kidnapped by Lolale, a chief on O`ahu, and lived with him for several years in Lihue at foot of Mount Ka`ala, bearing him three children. Longing to surf, Kelea demanded to be nearer the ocean and eventually won Lolale's consent to leave for the coast. Kelea went to `Ewa and joined the local crowd in the water. Jumping on a borrowed surfboard, she quickly revived her skill. Hearing an uproar and cheering, the ruler of the area, Kalamakua, was told Kelea had beaten all the local chiefs at surfing. He welcomed Kelea and brought her to his home in Halawa. Kelea stayed with Kalamakua for the rest of her life and gave him a daughter, Laielohelohe.

Legend of Laiekawahe
Another beautiful surfer, Laiekawahe, lived on Hawai`i island with her grandmother Waka. Chief Keakalukahiouokawa visited their area from Kaua`i and Waka hoped he might marry her granddaughter. Waka advised Laiekawahe to surf alone with the chief the next morning at Kea`au. Once everyone saw them surfing together, Waka instructed Laiekawahe to kiss the chief and then take him as a lover.

Halaaniani, a local boy, hoped to win Laiekawahe for himself but he was too shy to talk to her. Instead, he followed her to the beach the next morning. All three paddled out on their boards to catch waves. Chief Kekalukahiouokawa and Laiekawahe caught three waves together, Laiekawahe kissing the chief after the first one, but Halaaniani hung back. Before the next wave came, Laiekawahe asked Halaaniani why he hadn't joined them; he replied he wasn't used to short waves and was waiting for a long one.

Laiekawahe and the chief rode a fourth wave then waited for their fifth and last wave. Keakalukahiouokawa caught it but Halaaniani grabbed Laiekawahe's ankles and pulled her off her board. The chief surfed in alone and Laiekawahe asked, "Where is the long wave you've kept me back for?" She and Halaaniani swam far out. A large swell approached and Halaaniani told Laiekawahe to wait for the third wave and not to leave her board once she caught it. Together they caught the third, very large wave. Laiekawahe looked around and at first didn't see Halaaniani, but then she noticed him riding the tip of the wave with great skill. Laiekawahe fell in love with Halaaniani in that instant and as soon as they returned to the beach, Halaaniani took Laiekawahe as his wife. Waka found the lovers and, disappointed that a chiefly grandson would not be in her family, she cursed Laiekawahe for taking the wrong husband.

 Sites for further information

Legendary Surfers: A Definitive History of Surfing's Culture and Heroes

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