The Duke Surf Team was the brainchild of Kimo McVay (Duke's manager) and it consisted of some of the hottest surfers of the period -surfers who have gone on to legendary status since. The Duke Surf Team can be considered Duke's last real involvement in surfing before his passing in 1968. Although he remained active as an honoured guest at various contests and ceremonies as well as maintaining a presence at his club in Waikiki, one of Duke's last acts as a surfer was touring with his team.
Certainly, all four members of the Duke Team -- Paul Strauch, Joey Cabell, Fred Hemmings and Butch Van Artsdalen -- grew to appreciate these twilight years of Duke's and the tremendous opportunity they had to share some of those years and memories with him. Duke and Butch have passed on but we are happy to announce that Paul, Joey and Fred will be attending the 100 year celebrations at Freshwater.
Fred Hemmings had this to say about the upcoming event. "Australian and Hawaiian surfing have much in common. Certainly reigning supreme is the beloved Duke Kahanamoku as the patriarch of Modern day surfing. It is indeed a pleasure for me to be joining the Hawaiian delegation to celebrate Duke Kahanamoku riding the waves of Freshwater, Australia 100 years ago. We will bring with us the aloha Duke lived."
Fred Hemmings was a top small and big wave surfer who won the Makaha International (considered the world contest back in the day) four times. He also won the third World Surfing Championships in Puerto Rico in 1968. Hemmings was a steersman on four Molokai to Oahu Outrigger Canoe racing Champion teams. Hemmings retired from competitive surfing to focus on creating a new sports industry; promoting and marketing surfing as a viable professional sport. In 1970 Hemmings created the Pipeline Masters surf competition which is now one of the longest standing surf contests in the world.
In 1976 Hemmings co-founded, along with Randy Rarick, the organisation of International Professional Surfers (IPS). IPS became the first professional surfing circuit, hosting 12 events around the world. Respecting Hawaii's legendary status in surfing, the tour was formatted so that at least three of the events were held in Hawaii. This organisation became the forerunner to today’s Association of Surfing Professionals tour. Hemmings was also a strong advocate for women in professional surfing. In 1975 Hemmings founded the World Cup of Surfing championships with events for both men and women. It was the ABC Wide World of Sports programs, produced by Fred, that took surfing for the first time into the homes of Middle America.
Fred served as a Republican member of the Hawaii Senate elected in 2000, he served as Senate Minority Leader from 2002 to 2010. He is a respected speaker and author who will feature at the Dukes Day "Talk Story" sessions held on Friday and Saturday of the event.
Joey Cabell was arguably he finest all-around surfer of the '60s, and certainly the decade's best international competitor. Cabell was born and raised in Honolulu, and began surfing at age seven. By the late '50s he'd become a surfer of unmatched range and polish, able to ride with total panache in waves from two to 25 feet. Joey was also into snow skiing and in Aspen he, and a couple of friends, founded the now famous Chart House Restaurant chain and he is still owner of the landmark Honolulu restaurant.
During the short-board revolution of the late 60's and early 70's, Cabell was on the cutting edge with two boards he designed and shaped that were built for speed. His speed surfing set a new standard for its time, winning the Duke Kahanamoku Surfing Classic in 1969. That winter on those surfboards, Joeys legend was cemented by surfing the freight train right hand break of Kauai's Hanalei Bay, 25ft plus, on his own, no leg rope, a feat accomplished only by a classic Hawaiian Waterman.
Joey emailed us recently saying, "I'm looking forward to returning to Australia and share the stoke Duke shared with me and looking forward to catching up with old friends."
The third surviving member is Paul Strauch Jr. Also born and raised at Waikiki Beach. Strauch has been credited as the first surfer to do bottom turns in bigger waves, something he began working on in the late '50s.
“In the mid-1960s,” wrote Chris Ahrens in a 1995 bio for Longboard magazine, “the Paul Strauch Five rocked American surf culture harder than The Beatles” , it was the first view of nose-riding in big surf and a manoeuvre used today in big and small waves. To this day it is still the only surfing manoeuvre to bear a person’s name. It was by no means his greatest accomplishment. Paul's power surfing, done with style and grace, is legendary and although not known as a competitor, he did well in competitions thru the 60's and early 70's. Gerry Lopez called Paul "the most stylish surfer ever. He had more style than anyone in any size surf, and he could ride anything,” recalled Lopez, who was just starting out at the time. “When the surf was big, he really stood out. Takayama, Hemmings, Hynson, Butch; they were all really great surfers. But Paul Strauch was on a whole different level from any of them. Just the best guy everywhere he went. Left, right, big waves, small waves. All of it!”
Paul recalls -"One of my great lifetime experiences was to watch Duke surf from the sands of Waikiki Beach. Later, at 21 as a founding member of the Duke Kahanamoku Surf Club, I had the privilege on a personal level, to travel with him, become his aikane (friend) and know his Aloha. It was simple… “Smile, reach out to encourage, share what you have and your spirit, and contribute in some way to someone else’s happiness.” I was raised to understand Aloha, literally meaning “your breath of life.” Duke embodied life and Aloha”, said Paul.
All three of these living legends will be attending Dukes Day to share their stories and aloha. And a special thanks to Hawaiian Airlines for flying our Hawaiian guests to Australia.
Don't miss this and more at Dukes Day Celebrations at Freshwater Beach this coming January 9 & 10.
LAST CALL for entries to the Panasonic Duke Shorts Film Competition which will be screened at the Patagonia Closing Ceremony on Saturday night before the free outdoor screening of the award winning film, A Deeper Shade of Blue. Click on this link to see Fred Pawle’s article in The Australian newspaper last week, if link doesn’t open, copy/paste:
Aloha to all, -Duke Day committee.
For any further media information contact Jack McCoy (email@example.com Mob: 0419 946 598)