Top tandem surfing teams return to Waikiki

The world’s best tandem surfing teams return to the sport’s birthplace of Waikiki, Aug. 23 through 25, to pair up on the waves for the World Title of Tandem Surfing, presented by Tsunami’s Waikiki.

Sanctioned by the International Surfing Association, and produced by the International Tandem Surfing Association, the event will also be a feature of the annual Duke’s OceanFest Celebration.

Tandem surfing began at Waikiki in the 1920s, back in the days when Duke Kahanamoku and the famous Waikiki Beachboys would take out young ladies who would like to try their hand at surfing. Finding it easier to manage the surfboard and the weight of two by hoisting the women up on their shoulders to ride, the sport of tandem surfing emerged.

Today, the sport is a highly athletic one that demonstrates great style, grace and skill — akin to couples dancing or figure skating, only on the waves. Teams consist of a man and a woman, with the woman being lifted to perform a series of intricate poses on each ride while her partner maneuvers the board and rides the waves to shore.

The World Title of Tandem Surfing will feature a mix of youth and experience, and traditional hoists and contemporary styles. Surfers competing in the World Title of Tandem Surfing range in age from 19 years (Sarah Burel, France, who partners with Rico Leroy), to 54 years (Blanche Yoshida, Kaua‘i, who will partner with David Vierra). In all, a dozen teams from Hawai‘i, France, Australia, Brazil, Florida and California will compete, including defending world tandem champions Brian Keaulana and Kathy Terada, of Makaha.

Along with the competition, there will also be tandem clinics, open to the public, from 10 a.m. to noon, Aug. 22 through Aug. 25 at Waikiki Beach. Evening events will include autograph sessions with the original “Gidget,” as well as a Hall of Fame party at Tsunami’s Waikiki (7 p.m., Aug. 23), a lu‘au (Aug. 24), and an awards ceremony and tandem surfing movie at Sunset on the Beach

(7 p.m., Aug. 25).

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