Haakenson: Kekai, Reynolds, Verdone to enter hall

The Surfers Hall of Fame has announced its 2012 class of inductees who will be honored in a ceremony in front of Huntington Surf & Sport on Main Street on Aug. 3, during the weeklongU.S. Openof Surfing.

Rabbit Kekai, Dane Reynolds and Andy Verdone will join the others who have been recognized since the hall's inception in 1997 for their impact on the sport, the surf industry and surf culture.

"Rabbit Kekai, Dane Reynolds and Andy Verdone are three surfing legends that have influenced generations of surfers past, present and future," Surfers' Hall of Fame founder Aaron Pai said in a release.

For Verdone, putting his footprints in cement in front of HSS won't be too unusual considering he's put his footprints in the sand in and around Huntington for years, both figuratively and literally.

Verdone took control of the Huntington Beach High surf team in 1987 and made an immediate impact. He has guided the H.B. surf team to 10 National Scholastic Surfing Assn. titles and one National Surf League crown (2010).

He has trained and coached some of the best surfers to come out of Huntington Beach, such as Barry and Jeff Deffenbaugh, Jay Larson, Micah Byrne, Shaun Ward and Brett Simpson.

A popular aspect of Verdone's program is the surf trips he's taken with his teams to places such as Australia, South Africa and Ireland. In 2007, Verdone and his surfers were featured in a documentary titled "Chasing the Dream," which chronicles his surfers in their quest to become pros.

Kekai is a Hawaiian legend, a life in surfing starting at 10 when Duke Kahanamoku took him under his wing and had him teaching surf lessons.

He is one of the pioneers of North Shore surfing going back to the 1930s and became known as an innovator of drop-knee turns on short, finless boards. Nicknamed "Rabbit," Kekai was the first real "hot dog" on a board, inspiring so many others.

Kekai also made his own redwood and balsa boards before World War II, in which he served as aU.S. Army Frogman in the South Pacific.

Reynolds has become known for his aggressive and risky style, not afraid to experiment with creative moves and is one of the best aerialists around.

He first started to get attention in the X Games, receiving the highest single wave score in both 2003 and 2004. He qualified for the Assn. of Surfing Professionals World Tour in 2008, cracked the top 10 in 2009 and placed fourth in the world in 2010.

Injuries have slowed him down the past couple of years, but he gets the highest praise from many of his contemporaries, who call him the most exciting free surfer in the world.


WithFather's Daycoming up Sunday, it is appropriate to mention some dads who have started their own club, "The DC Crew."

The dads all know each other from The Pegasus School in Huntington, and every Sunday they take their daughters to Blackies in Newport to surf. The original group consisted of five girls, but now the group is starting to grow as some of the younger siblings of the original girls are getting interested.

Carl Kawabe and his friend Mike Mulroy started taking their daughters surfing a couple years ago and soon others joined in. They try to get out there every Sunday in good and bad conditions.

"Over the course of two years there were two or three times we probably shouldn't have gone out," said Kawabe, who takes out his two daughters, Caroline, 9, and Catherine, 6. "We call those days our 'character-building' days."

Even as the group of groms has grown, Kawabe said they have had no problems with any of the locals.

"They've been pretty good," Kawabe said. "Even when we were first starting out, they were complimenting us, saying how they remember their dads first taking them out. Anyone who surfs remembers how they got started, and they appreciate it."

Why "DC Crew," you ask? It stands for The Donut Crew, because they get a donut at Seaside Bakery after their sessions and talk about the waves they caught. They'll be in water again Sunday morning on Father's Day, just north of the Newport Pier, directly in front of their donut shop.


The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation has announced that the honorary co-chairmen for their annual Pipeline to a Cure gala this summer will be Mickey Munoz and Rick Parkhill.

The gala is at 5:30 p.m. July 14 at the Hyatt Regency and Spa in Huntington Beach.

The CFF just recently announced skateboard legend Tony Hawk has joined the foundation as a Pipeline to a Cure Ambassador.

For tickets and information about the gala, call (714) 938-1393.

JOE HAAKENSON is an Orange County-based sports writer and editor. He may be reached at joe@juvecreative.com.

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