I took this video last year with Ekolu Kalama in the water at Sunset Beach. When I shot this, we were facing away from the surf breaks and were safe in the channel. I asked Ekolu to give some tips on how to move from bigger waves to smaller waves and how to stay safe in the water. He shared his first experience with big waves at 25’ Hawaiian style, not knowing what to do, still trying to get his act together in the water. Luckily, for him the water was not crowded which gave him the chance to experiment on his moves.
And as a tip to beginners, he suggests to do it the same way he did, especially on big waves, stay away from the crowd. This will give you more room for flotation and get the feel of the board and paddle. Ekolu also suggests watching those in the water before trying to catch waves and try to fit in as best as possible.
Ekolu also tells the sups beginners to tag along a friend for safety. If possible, start slow, try it in flat water, and know the basics: balancing, board maneuvers. As much as possible, know how to handle your equipment well to avoid animosity in the crowd.
For downwinders, I asked Ekolu to give some tips as well for those trying to catch some bumps and reading the ocean. He said to spend more time in the water, like 3-4 times a week. This way you get to develop the art of catching bumps. And for those who want to be at the top, go for 3-4 times a day (uh…kinda crazy). He also said it’s important to be in good shape because “you never want to be in the ocean and be out of shape because the ocean always has surprises.” This is the reason why they paddle from island to island, like 20-mile runs in preparation for the big surf. He also mentioned that one has to know the ocean and not to take it for granted because it’s got a lot of surprises out there.
On becoming a Starboard team rider, Ekolu said that they got hold of him through a referral from Stand Up Journal Magazine editor. After a couple of email exchanges, he went to the Starboard pictorial in the Maldives where he got to SUP surf and share his music. Starboard liked what they saw in Ekolu and that started their partnership. When I asked him how it was to work with Starboard, Ekolu is simply stoked with their products.
He also told me about the “Stand Up World” movie he was working on which he said is for a non-profit organization that he started with a friend, the Ohana Project. Along with this movie, he was set to go to Honduras to help a community on a water supply project and teach stand up paddle surfing. After which, he goes to El Salvador for a benefit concert for the Libras De Amor feeding project.
Catch more of Starboard’s Ekolu Kalama from this video.