Sponsors: Hawaiian Pro Designs, Sticky Bumps, Boobie Shack, Crush Sunglasses, Mokulele Airlines and BioAstin.
Brown eyed and bushy tailed, Kahanu has the cheerful personality to match her snappy skills in the water. The Big Island local recently caught Freesurf’s attention at the Verizon Hawaii Surf Team tryouts on Oahu (congrats on making the 2014 Qualifying Squad!), but this teen has been training for success since the age of 9. The third oldest out of 6 other siblings, Kahanu is part of a surfing family, gaining an initial interest in the sport from her dad. “My dad grew up surfing so when we were little, he always took us out on his board,” describes the 15-year old. “I was always surfing, just never really into it competitively.” That was until Kahanu made the decision to stand out from her siblings and chase a dream- to surf professionally and share a personal passion with the world.
With role models like Carissa Moore, Bethany Hamilton and her parents, this surfer girl has the dedication, focus and natural talent to be a serious contender in the competition. Although lacking a main sponsor, ‘Little Delovio’ isn’t without support and local love. “Thank you to all my sponsors that have helped me be where I am today and the person that I am today,” remarks Kahanu with gratitude. The Hawaiian/Portuguese wahine stands 4’8 (and a half) feet tall, but is growing quickly in mind, body and spirit. Did we mention Kahanu’s surfing abilities are also quickly making great strides?
What made you decide to turn surfing from a hobby into a career?
I wanted to find something that I could make what I love. When I was 9 I fell in love with surfing. And I just took off after that- I couldn’t stay out of the water! Everyone in our family surfs, but I’m the only one who really wants to take it seriously.
What are the advantages/disadvantages to growing up surfing on the Big Island?
There’s definitely disadvantage because there are no beach breaks, so that’s definitely what I lack in. There are mostly reef breaks and point breaks here.
I think it’s definitely harder growing up on the Big Island than it is on Oahu because there’s not as many coaches or publicity. But there’s definitely a lot of people on the Big Island that want to help and support you, and there’s a lot of people here that are welcome to helping you.
Dream travel destination?
I really want to go to Australia and maybe Tahiti.
Who would you bring with you?
I’d bring my family because one time I went to California for 2 months and it was fun, but if my family were there it would have been so much more fun.
I would also take Summer Macedo.
Favorites wave on the North Shore?
I really like Gas Chambers. Oh and Velzies. I like Sunset too.
What are you most known for in your surfing?
Some people say that I’m a fast surfer. That and powerful. But I like powerful more than snappy.
What tricks are you working on?
I’m trying to do airs. But mostly just smoothing out my surfing and focusing on certain stuff at certain times to polish my surfing, and make it that much better. I’ve been trying to focus a lot on physical training to help me balance and stabilize.
What challenges you?
Trying to go bigger. I try to challenge myself by doing bigger stuff and just pushing myself harder and harder, reaching for higher goals and not settling for what I already have.
For me it’s really hard to focus on school and at the same time focus on surfing, especially when there are waves. But this past year I changed schools. It’s harder, but it has definitely pushed me in the right direction and makes me want to work harder so I can get good grades and keep up my surfing.
Singing and playing the ukulele. I used to dance hula a lot and I still try to dance, but it has kind of been pushed to the side.
Your ultimate goal in life:
My main goal is I want to make it on the World Tour and also at the same time spread the love of Jesus to other people.
I also really want to focus on my character. Like just being a nice person and a good role model for the next generation to come. And being someone who is remembered not for my surfing but for my attitude and my kindness.
Last words for the Freesurf audience:
Before you talk, listen. Before you react, think. Before you criticize, wait. Before you pray, forgive. And before you quit, try.