Surfing seaplane pays island visit

Oh to be a professional surfer.

What a life that must be. Getting paid to travel to the best beaches in the world and surf all day.

How nice is that? Now imagine, in addition to the luxurious life, a special plane that can fly to remote beaches and land right on the water.

The Billabong surfing team, which includes Kaua‘i’s Andy Irons and Keala Kennelly, can now fly on this retro seaplane to get to where they need to go.

“Before we’d rent boats, but never a seaplane that can land right there on the water. We can just fly there and then jump in the water. It takes a little longer to get there than a jet, but I’m excited,” Irons said. “I can’t wait to check out all these places no one’s been before like the Christmas Islands and all through Tahiti. With this new sea plane we can surf all day and fly back and stay at a nice hotel.” But this isn’t a private jet for the surfers.

It’s the Billabong Hawaiian Clipper the team gets to use as transport for surfing events and photo shoots.

Its official launch took place in January in Honolulu, where the team got to give the plane a try.

“We got to check it out to see what we’re going to be flying around in,” he said.

Locals here get a chance to check out this World War II-era Grumman Albatross seaplane tomorrow at the Lihue Airport at the commuter terminal on Ahukini Road. The surfing team themselves will not be there, but the public is invited to see the aircraft up close and meet the crew from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The crew is bringing the seaplane here for a visit before going on a two-year surfing safari in the South Pacific.

• Lanaly Cabalo, lifestyle writer, may be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 237) or lcabalo@kauaipubco.com.

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