No trip to Hawaii would be complete without an attempt to hang ten. We found Brother, our surf instructor in a little beach hut just outside the Waikiki Outrigger Hotel. In his mid 40s, bronzed like cocoa, bearing a pot belly, he appeared an unsuspecting instructor. Without wasting a minute, he got us suited up, giving us a crash course on the basics before taking us in the water to test our moxie.
Little did I know that the hardest part of surfing was not the balancing act. With a little push and the right timing, finding balance on the board took little effort. Half the battle was the paddling back to our starting point, which seemed to take triple the time it took to ride the 3o second wave. Between waves, Brother revealed that he was a former pro-surfer, who used to compete in California. Every once in a while we’d see a sinewy old man skim past us. Brother would give him a shout-out. He told us later that the man, who is in his 80′s, has been around since Brother was a kid, and is still riding the waves in his twilight years. Brother no longer competes. He teaches surfing Monday to Friday, and in between trains his nephew, a former pro-baseball player, to surf. His life is simple, but content. He beams with pride as he tells me he has repeat customers from Australia who look him up every time they’re back on the island.
No sooner had I stripped off my wet suit, I was already itching to get back on the board. Brother chuckled and said, he’d didn’t know about me, but he’d be having breakfast. He told me I could return after lunch if I really wanted a second go, but his prescription was simply to relax. If not today, he warned us our arms would be fatigued by tomorrow. Of course he was right. Nonetheless, we found ourselves back a few days later for round two of hang ten the Hawaiian way.