Tandem Surfing Yes!

August 20th, 2009

Tandem Surfing Yes!

Hawaii is home to a handful of talented tandem teams.  It is one of the most intriguing of water sports. Back in 1915 Duke Kahanamoku was invited to Australia by the NSW Swimming Association. He did not take a board so Isabel Letham's father helped him make one from sugar pine.  Australians had been body boarding on wooden boards and they loved body surfing but no one had been standing up let alone standing with two people on one surfboard.  

At Freshwater Beach Duke Kahanamoku gave a 3 hour demonstration of "Hawaiian-style surf shooting" to a crowd of hundreds.  At the end of the session Kahanamoku invited Letham from the crowd for a tandem surfing demonstration. Letham was 15 at the time and an accomplished swimmer and bodysurfer and known as a "tomboy".  She'd never done tandem surfing before.  Four waves later Isabel Letham was quoted as saying she was "hooked for life".  Letham went on to become an accomplished surfer,  teacher, and mentor to many who loved the sport of surfing and swimming.

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3 Responses to “Tandem Surfing Yes!”

  1. Michael Ives:

    Hi Edgy,
    Great article on Tandem Surfing. My wife and I enjoy watching it each year at the Duke OceanFest.
    I recently painted a piece called 'Tandem Surfing with the Duke, 1919'.
    It's on my website in the Hawaiian Art Section.

  2. Roy Burgess:

    I just ran across this site. I have been an admirer of your work since moving to the islands. Will continue to follow you.

    Mahalo, Roy

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