Hard Rock Cafe Surf Series

HONOLULU – March 21, 2010 – Watching 11-year-old Kaulana Apo (Oahu, Hawaii) tackle the largest South Shore swell to hit the Islands this year is a window on the future. Sitting down with him and his parents on shore leaves little doubt that this kid has everything it takes to make it big. A working class family from Ewa Beach, the Apo’s approach to Kaulana’s future is as fresh as the Hawaiian Tradewinds: No hyping, no hovering, no home schooling. A-grades, art and application in a traditional school setting are their formula.

Above: Kaulana pulls into a solid barrel during his final at event #7 of the Hard Rock Cafe Series.
Photo: Bernie Baker.

Kaulana was competing in the Hard Rock Cafe Surf Series, presented by HSA, this weekend and won his division. The result was personally gratifying and reinforced that he is on the right path, one step at a time. Right now he’s working to qualify for the Hard Rock Cafe State Titles in May and is at the top of the Oahu rankings.

With talk of teens pulling in six-figure deals for riding the waves these days, there is no shortage of kids and parents putting it all on the line for a shot at pro-surfing stardom. Per capita, there are probably more of them in Hawaii than anywhere else on the planet; pint-sized kids with more logos than board space to put them.

But the Apos aren’t in any rush to get to the top.

“We haven’t really thought too much about it,” says his mother, Jennifer. “We’re just excited to see him enjoying himself.”

Kaulana does have a sponsor. He recently joined Hurley and has a realistic contract that hinges upon school books first and surfboards second; straight A’s are what pay incentives.

“He’s really into his art, so we try to encourage him to put as much time into that,” says Jennifer. “Go to college, maybe do a graphic design degree. He could work as a graphic designer in the surf industry.”

A soft-spoken, polite kid, Kaulana turns his board over to show off his latest style: graffiti art. The word ‘STRIVE’ is detailed in bright pink across the top of his board.

“Push myself to do better, strive to get A’s is what it means to me,” says Kaulana.

It’s rare to hear a kid talk about a future in surfing that might just as well be behind the scenes as on the covers. But Kaulana is serious about considering both paths. He plans to submit some of his artwork to Hurley to be considered for inclusion in their clothing line.

There’s a lot of talent in the pre-teen ranks these days, but there’s a rare star quality about Kaulana that sets him apart and leaves you hoping that he makes it to the top intact. The gentle, supportive nature of his family only serves to underscore the likelihood that he will, and when he does arrive, it will be with far more to sell than just surfing talent.

Contact: Jodi Wilmott

Finalists listed in order of placing.

Boys 11 & Under: Kaulana Apo; Noa Mizuno; Wyatt McHale; Troy Osada;
Christophe Bluthardt; Devin Brueggemann
Boys 12-14: Keanu Ikalani; Dane Rust; Austin Vicente; Kai Matsumoto; Thomas Williams;
Elijah Gates
Menehune 1A: Wyatt McHale; Makana Pang; Hunter Lora; Mark Kramarenko; Estee Lora;
Jett Lora
Junior Men: EJ Mitsui; Kylen Yamakawa; Kaito Kino; Taishi Kawabata;
Gen Asano; Bobby Lusica
Men: Davin Jaime; Mike Rummler
Masters: Billy Choi; Scott Shimoda; Brice Yamashita; Kapila Ciancio; Colin
Steinberger; Darren Mahoe
Senior Men: Sheldon Poirier; Shannon Silva; Matt Kenny; Richard Tom
Grandmaster: Rodney Nakashima; Kal Faurot; Tommy Reyes; Raymond Shito
Open Men: EJ Mitsui; Davin Jaime; Scott Shimoda; Kaito Kino; Billy Choi; Colin Steinberger
Girls: Bailey Nagy; Kaili Rodman; Jenna Forti; Mahina Maeda; Tia Blanco;
Nicole Brueggemann
Women: Hana Harrison; Izumi Baldwin; Dana Tortuga; Laurie Rodman
Bodyboard Jr Men: Booboo Cazimero; Tyler Pereza
Bodyboard Men: James Clancy
Dropknee: James Clancy; Booboo Cazimero; Tyler Pereza
Women Bodyboard: Malia Mizuno; Vanina Walsh; Sierra Ondo
Menehune Longboard: Tia Blanco; Christopher Bluthardt; Vanina Walsh; Sierra Ondo;
Moana Jones; Renesh Wainscoat
Jr. Men Longboard: Bobby Lusica; Colten Rivera
Open Longboard: Nelson Ahina; Sheldon Poirier; Gavin Hasegawa; Shane Hamamoto;
Bobby Lusica
Men Longboard: Nick Riopelle; Dustin Ferndandez
Sr. Men Longboard: Gavin Hasegawa;
Andre Derizans
Girls Longboard: Makani Adric; Tia Blanco; Kaili Rodman; Kui Adric; Ocean Tsutsui;
Ha’a Keaulana
Legends Longboard: Warren Hoohuli; George Matsuda; Tommy Reyes; Stephen Katayama;
Raymond Shito
Women Longboard: Stacia Ahina; Visha Bungo; Ashley Ahina; Desire Desoto; Izumi
Baldwin; Dana Tortuga
Standup Paddle: Alika Willis; Tia Blanco; Kaili Rodman; Vanina Walsh