August 24th is the birthday of Duke Paoa Kahinu Mokoe Hulikohola Kahanamoku. More commonly known as "Duke", Duke Kahanamoku is possibly the most famous Hawaiian of modern times. Born and raised near Waikiki, he became one of the first Waikiki Beach Boys. The Waikiki Beach Boy Services have now become world-renowned through their education/instruction of Hawaii's unique ocean sports and beach culture. In addition, Duke himself was a man of many hats; these included:
- Surfer (Bodysurfing and Board surfing)
- Swimmer (Gold, Silver and Bronze medals in the Olympics)
- Canoe Steersman
- Sheriff of Waikiki
- Brother (8 siblings)
Of his many accomplishments, Duke was most remembered as the true embodiment of the Aloha Spirit. He shared and spread this spirit of Aloha around the world.
Duke was also accredited as being the first man to introduce the ancient Hawaiian art of wave riding to the rest of the world. He brought the sport of surfing to places like Southern California, America's East Coast, Australia and New Zealand. Surfer magazine called Duke one of the "Most Influential Surfers of All Time". In 1917, legend says that Duke once road a wave from the outside reefs in Waikiki, all the way in to the shoreline....this ride was over a mile long and still stands as possibly the longest wave ever ridden.
Duke is a true Hero. Follow this link to a recent article about a legendary day on the coast of California, when Duke rescued a group of sailors after their vessel capsized in large waves. Hawaii pays tribute to this Hawaiian hero at the Duke's Oceanfest in Waikiki. This yearly festival honors the legacy of Hawaii's legendary waterman.
"You know, there are so many waves coming in all the time, you don't have to worry about that. Take your time—wave come. Let the other guys go; catch another one." Duke