Oahu Surfing

Oahu Surfing

Surfing On Oahu Local Surfer’s Mom Talks Story

My surfing on Oahu enlightenment began back in the day… way back.

In the late 1990s, Joel Centeio asked my son Ira to compete on Campbell High School’s Kalaeloa Surf Team. Joel was the team captain and my son’s classmate.

Ira balked at competing but coconspirators Uncle Cal and Auntie Dorinda kept nudging Ira to join the team. Their power surfer son Venton was Ira’s friend and already established on the team.

Ira finally caved when the team was short a surfer for the National Scholastic Surfing Association’s state champtionships.

Suddenly I found myself feeling insecure at the NSSA event at White Plains Beach at Barber’s Point. Why did I know so little about surfing on Oahu? My sons had been surfing for more than 5 years already! Sitting next to Kekoa Bacalso’s dad I was embarrassed to ask so many questions, but ask I did.


Unknown to me at the time, I was among some of Hawaii’s  best up and coming pro surfers  and would have the privilege of making a surfing on Oahu video including them and seasoned world class pro surfers such as the late Andy Irons, Kelly Slater and Kaipo Joaquias.

Surfing on Oahu Amateur Competitions Explained

As the day pressed on, I learned that each heat began and ended with the blow of a horn, had 6 surfers and lasted 15 minutes… with more time allotted for the final heat. Each contestant wore a different colored jersey shirt helping the judges distinguish them for scoring. Each surfer’s waves were scored from 1 to 10 with their top 3 wave scores combined to determine their ranking in the heat. The best 3 surfers moved on to the next heat until only 6 surfers remained for the final event.

Right of way rules had to be followed to determine who rides the wave. Break the rules… get a penalty like losing your highest scoring wave… no fighting is tolerated either! School-age surfers must maintain minimum grade point averages to be eligible to compete in Oahu surfing competitions.

The team won the state championships and went on to take 2nd place at the nationals in California! 

How Surfing on Oahu Plays an Important Role in Hawaii’s Culture

I blossomed into a surfer’s mom when Ira stayed on the team. What a blessing when he was picked up by sponsors… I was a single parent and free clothing and custom-made surfboards were a Godsend…

I eagerly anticipated each contest, calling the Oahu surf report, HASA and NSSA hotlines hoping for

perfect conditions. There were many early morning preparations with hurry-up-and-wait disappointments when the waves heights did not cooperate.

My heart pounded every time my son or his teammates waited patiently for their third wave of the heat with only 10 seconds left before the dreaded horn sounded signaling the end of the heat.

Speaking of that surfing video, I bought an expensive video camera and announced I was going to make a video about surfing on Oahu…

My teenage sons thought I was crazy of course… it was my first attempt at using a video camera! Admittedly, I thought I made a mistake too after buying the expensive camera and then having difficulty distinguishing the surfers due to bright sun conditions. 

I persevered and tagged along with the guys all over the island when the waves were good. Sometimes I made the 1-hour drive to North Shore to film the Pipeline Masters for a few hours then rushed home to start my workday.

Finally, after 2 years of filming and 6 months of editing (with editing advice from my sons), I accomplished my goal… a 50-minute professional surfing video. My dream was finally realized and best of all… my sons told me I made a good video!

More importantly, the years spent at Oahu surfing competitions with the surfers and their families enriched my life. I learned how locals embrace surfing on Oahu. I was impressed with the humble character apparent in many of the surfer’s and the gracious aloha spirit of their families.

What’s better than relaxing under a palm tree in the warm Hawaiian sun, talking story and becoming ohana?