The beach, sunshine and waves.
What could be better for a surfer?
But when you add 100 keiki surfing, hanging with friends, cheered on by family, and a chance to meet two of Kauai’s “crown jewels of surfing,” you’ve got the best of times.
“When we were little we had events like this,” Alana Blanchard said Saturday. “We would always look forward to it. We would have such a fun time.”
That’s why, for the second year, pro surfer Blanchard and lifelong friend and fellow surfer Bethany Hamilton put on the Bethany & Alana Keiki Classic at Pine Trees, presented by Hanalei Surf Company. Boys and girls 14 and under were treated to everything — surfing, prizes, lunch, games and a chance to get autographs and have their pictures taken with the event’s namesakes.
The two said they want kids today to share that same experience, feel the same exhilaration, that they did while riding waves on Kauai’s famous North Shore. And that’s what happened Saturday. Boys and girls carried boards, laughed and congratulated each other after carving, charging and even wiping out.
“They’re all so happy and it’s just good to be at the beach all day,” Blanchard said. “I remember that feeling and it’s so fun.”
Hamilton, taking a break from playing games with delighted kids, recalled the wonder of those days at the beach when she was a young girl and sharing the joy of surfing events, not always competing for points and prizes.
“These were always the most fun contests for us growing up,” she said.
Fun, it was, on Saturday.
Gabriela Bryan, 12, came out of the water with a big smile. The waves, she said, were good.
“It’s tricky, but it’s really fun,” she said.
Kellen O’Rourke, also 12, was anxious for his turn in the water. He said he gets nervous sometimes, but it’s fun once he’s out there and his thoughts turn to one thing: “Just shred.”
“I’m feeling great. I can’t wait to paddle out,” he said.
Mike McGinnis of Kapaa was at the beach to watch daughter Asha surf on Saturday. He liked the relaxed atmosphere of the event designed to showcase surfing and kids.
“They all get to hang out together all day on the beach,” he said. “What could be better?”
Aafke Zietz was keeping an eye on 8-year-old son Oliver, who was out on the waves. Surfing runs in the Zietz family.
“He’s doing great,” she said. “There’s a lot of good kids out there.”
The Bethany & Alana Keiki Classic at Pine Trees brings the community together for a great day. Zietz praised Blanchard and Hamilton for sharing their love of the sport and encouraging youth to be their best.
“They’re here to support a new generation of surfers,” she said.
Kaipo Guerrero, who works for the surf company Rip Curl, an event sponsor, said each keiki received a free entry, a goodie bag and lunch. There were prizes in two divisions for boys and girls, 14 and under, and 10 and under. There was also an essay contest judged by Hamilton, to encourage scholastic efforts, too.
“It’s all positive with surfing,” he said.
Blanchard’s been traveling often this year, competing in tournaments in Australia, Brazil, Europe and Fiji. It felt good to be back on Kauai, on the beach, sharing her joy of surfing with another generation.
“It’s something fun, exciting for the kids,” she said.
Hamilton, who’s more often seen on national TV competing with husband, Adam, on “The Amazing Race,” was happy to yield the spotlight to the boys and girls at Pine Trees on Saturday.
“We’ve got good waves and the kids are ripping,” she said.