The surf gods were smiling, well maybe at least grinning, at the Town & Country/SURFER Magazine combined Air Invitational and Surf Grom Contests. Both events were held at the historic Queens reef, in the shadow of both Diamond Head and the great Duke Kahanamoku’s statue, at Kuhio Beach Park, in the heart of Waikiki.
Hawaii’s Gavin Sutherland flew back from San Diego to his home island here to re-capture the Air Invitational title that he has won three out of the past four years. And he strolled into town with both guns loaded and some serious business on his mind. “I got in (to Honolulu) at the last second, I knew the surf wouldn’t be big, but there’s almost always a set out there that’ll get you up into the air for good hang time. I knew I’d have to have the patience to find ‘that’ wave with the right section.” Gavin was smart in not wasting any energy on the weaker waves and with the trade winds almost nil, the best and only way to get the job done was to wait for that odd “set” wave and give it your best launch.
Coming in second was last year’s winner, Macy Mullen, who opted for catching maybe a couple of wasted motion smaller waves that only got him half the boost of Gavin’s two best rides. The outcome could have been different had third place finisher Kawika Stillwell of Kaua`i had pulled off his best air on one of the bigger waves of the final, but fell on the landing and never found a wave of equal speed after that. Brian Pacheco snuck back over from his “summer home” on Maui, coming in fourth in the Invitational.
This was also Town & Country’s annual Surf Grom Contest, for short, long and bodyboarders under 14 years of age. The two-day event has become the bell ringer for the start of summer’s south shore season and the kids packed it in for the goody bags, trophys and autographs from the pros.