PUHI — While lifeguards at Kealia Beach were monitoring the waters for a shark that forced the closure of the beach park, Kalani Vierra’s shark ‘aumakua on his back glistened with perspiration, Wednesday afternoon.
Vierra and his partner Krystl Apeles were involved in their final workout at the Kauai Gymnastics Academy before leaving for France on Tuesday to defend their world tandem surfing championship.
“They have been working hard,” said Jack Leonard, owner and gymnastics instructor of the Puhi facility. “They have five routines, including one patented by the pair, but only have to do three for the contest.
Apeles said she was nervous about the surf.
“It’s been described as a lot of white water and bumpy,” she said.” But you’re dealing with nature so whatever happens, happens.”
Vierra said he hopes the waves are challenging.
“When you have challenging waves, everyone is going to have a hard time,” the ocean bureau supervisor said. “That creates distractions from concentrating on their moves. Right now, I’m not nervous, but we’ll see what happens when the horn sounds.”
The competition takes place July 20 to 24, so they’ll be arriving early.
“It gives us a chance to get acquainted with that place,” Vierra said. “The organizers also have a schedule of events we need to take part in, including a Junior Lifeguard day, helping instruct adult ocean safety classes and taking out kids with special needs. We’re just going out there to keep spreading the aloha.”
Leonard said the two dedicated a lot of time preparing their routines and building conditioning for the grueling task ahead.
“They trained without regret so they can perform without worry,” Leonard said. “They’re ready.”
Vierra said they will host a sunset exhibition this evening at the PK’s Reform break starting at 5:45 p.m. until the sun goes down.
Contributions to help them defray the cost of the trip to France are welcomed, either in person, or through their website, www.pukasurf.com.