After a quiet morning enjoying the sunshine on the west side of the island it was time to head to Waikiki to meet up with Kainoa McGee and Kainoa Beaupre to hear what these 2 cutting edge stand up paddlers had to say about the sport of stand up paddling(SUP). We rondevued at Waikiki Beach, where Kainoa McGee is a lifeguard.
We first spoke with Kainoa McGee who was born and raise in Oahu and is a true waterman. Some of his oldest memories are spent in the water right at the Waikiki wall. At the age of 18 Kainoa became a professional body boarder in 1989 and through the 90’s picked up stand up surfing in which he became a pro at as well. In the last 2 years Kainoa discovered stand up paddling, which he fell in love with, and quickly caught onto and became a pro. Kainoa McGee is one of the few who can stand up paddle the famous Pipeline break on the North Shore, where he surfs and body boards as well. An underlying rule in the stand up paddling world is to only stand up paddle where you normally surf or body board.
[caption id="attachment_1161" align="aligncenter" width="360" caption="Kainoa McGee SUP"][/caption]
We continued the day catching up with Kainoa Beaupre, another born and raised Oahu waterman and a Werner Paddles athlete. Standing at a stout 5′ 6”, Kainoa decided to push the sport of stand up paddling in a way that most can’t-making the smallest SUP boards functionally possible. SUP boards have to be wider, longer and thicker than traditional surf boards in order for the surfer to not sink while paddling out to the surf or in flat water. To push these limits Kainoa Beaupre decided to start the company Ku Hoe with shaper Robin Johnston. They currently sell SUP boards 8′-10′, but are making boards as small as 6”5′ that Kainoa Beaupre rides. With boards this small Kainoa can ride waves more dynamically than most stand up paddlers. Kainoa is also working on eliminating the weight of the foam required for SUP boards, which will lighten the board up in hopes to one day get SUP surfers doing areal tricks. [caption id="attachment_1162" align="aligncenter" width="360" caption="Kainoa Beaupre on a Ku Hoe Board"][/caption]
While Kainoa McGee and Kainoa Beaupre continued to tell us more about themselves and the sport, we started to get into the etiquette and opinions of stand up paddling. With SUP being a fairly new sport, especially in terms of surfing, there is a lot of people who dislike it, particularly on the mainland. People feel that it is dangerous to surrounding surfers and that the stand up paddlers don’t deserve to take their waves. It is because of these opinions that both Kainoa McGee and Kainoa Beaupre feel that etiquette is the up most importance; especially since they are some of the few pushing the limits of the sport. The most important rule is safety; with SUP equipment being of larger size it is essential that a stand up paddler does not surf beyond their comfort zone and is aware of their surroundings at all times. Much of SUP etiquette is that of surfing-no your place and be respectful. The more people witness people like Kainoa McGee and Kainoa Beaupre pushing the sport to new levels and tearing it up on Oahu’s famous surf breaks the more people will realize the potential of the sport. If you ask me, all it takes is trying to stand up paddling in the ocean once and then you will have full respect for these guys who are paddling out into the break and surfing some of the toughest breaks in the world.
Stay tuned from the next SUP report as we join Kainoa Beaupre, Kainoa McGee, Dan Gavere, Nikki Gregg, and others on the west shore of Oahu.
Click here to learn more about Kainoa Beaupre and Ku Hoe
Click here to learn more about Kainoa McGee