Jan 17, 2015
Tackling the Waves with Surf HNL
Photos by Jonas Maon
What is it about surfing that is so enchanting?
Is it its ancient Hawaiian roots, or its 1960s explosion into mainstream culture complete with shortboards and short shorts? Surfing employs a force of nature to act as your guide, and sometimes, that guide is unpredictable. But with companies like Ward Village-based Surf HNL, founded by Cherry Fu, surfing, or he'e nalu,is as fun as it looks.
Ten years ago, Fu could be found surfing Kewalos, a popular surf spot off O‘ahu's south shore near Kewalo Basin Harbor. A Harvard graduate, she had recently moved from Boston to Hawai‘i on a "surf stoke" and was eagerly dreaming about starting a company called Girls Who Surf, a surf school that employed female surf instructors. She believed that women could provide a different approach to surf instruction than what currently existed. Getting it off the ground wasn't easy. "Cherry had a really hard time breaking into the industry," says sales manager and instructor, Alison Kalange.
She was always told she didn't belong, and I think that's what really inspired Girls Who Surf. She wanted to empower women enough to not only be surf instructors, but to be comfortable enough to even try.
Regardless of what she was told, Fu couldn't deny her love for surfing and the impact it has had on the world. So she went ahead, gathering a small team of talented, reliable staff to get her footing. With that, Girls Who Surf was in the water. Today, this team has grown to include talented instructors, both male and female, including Iniki Leialoha, who is pictured here. Of Fu, Kalange says: "She's a really good mentor and coach. She's also very hands-on with her staff, helping them grow into established roles." Since the days of running her business out of her van, Cherry's original company Girls Who Surf has evolved into three branches under the umbrella of Surf HNL: Ala Moana Surf and Stand-up Paddle, Ko Olina Surf and Stand-up, and SUP at Poka‘i Bay.
There's no denying the ocean's mystical healing powers. It leaves your skin tingling (and slightly pruned) and your heart pumping. When the south shore swells aren't surf-friendly, a sunset SUP sesh on the calm waters of the beach across from Ward Village is the ultimate cure-all. With a paddle in your hand, and a guide such as Iniki to lead the way, life this good simply cannot wait.
For more information or to sign up for classes, visit www.surfhnl.com. Or, to view the South Shore swells, check out our surf cam here.
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