On Saturday, April 13, hundreds of menehune bubbling with excitement packed Ho’okipa Beach Park in anticipation not just for surfing in the fun conditions on hand, but also for a dunk tank, scavenger hunt, juicing station and box car derby, along with the opportunity to snag autographs from pros such as Matt Meola, Paige Alms, Albee Layer and Tanner Hendrickson.
The 13th Annual Menehune Mayhem lived up to its name with 175 menehune packing the lineup in contested heats throughout the day, and hundreds more present for the other beach activities. Overall, this year’s event saw 1,500 people.
“I was 19 when I started it,” said founder and waterman Ian Walsh. “There seemed to be a lack of youth surf events at the time, and the whole concept behind it was to create it exactly how I wanted it when I was their age. I didn’t grow up with a lot of money, so its free for them to enter, and whether you come in first or your don’t make your first heat, you still get a goodie bag of gear. It morphed into something more than a surf event, and for those who may be too intimidated to start surfing, they have the opportunity to play at all these other activities, so they can see how fun surfing can be without being forced into trying it. That has been a big reason I do this event, to subtly give the kids an opportunity to check out surfing.”
Other than beach activities and surfing, the 13th Annual also aimed to provide education on a myriad of topics, and in a unique way. For example, after the setup team placed water dispensaries throughout the area, participants were provided a water bottle. “Rather than preach to them the importance of recycling and conservation, it was simpler and much more impactful to give them a water bottle to let them start doing it and show them why,” said Walsh.
The most prestigious part of the day involved awards – in the form of laptops – given out to the children who had the highest GPAs in school.
“I can’t take credit, our entire community on Maui came down to help, there were so many volunteers who made it so much more than a surf event,” said Walsh. “It wouldn’t be a hundredth of what it was without the Maui community being there and making it so big.”