Kaua‘i Girls Shred It In California

Wailua’s Malia Manuel took second place at the O’Neill World Cup of Surfing in Oceanside, Calif., earlier this month. Scholtz / ASP photo

Results from the ASP 6-Star Supergirl Pro Junior in Oceanside, Calif., (Aug. 13), show that Kaua’i’s young surfing talent is second to none on the world’s stage.

Yet the question remains as to whether Kaua’i and Hawaii as a whole will be able to develop that talent the way other countries continue to churn out successful professionals.

North America’s only 6-Star Pro Junior contest brought out the best 20and-under girl surfers from around the globe, with six Hawaii riders among the 16 qualifiers.

In the end, the final heat included three Kaua’i surfers with Wailua’s Malia Manuel taking second place, Kilauea’s Leila Hurst in third and Hanalei’s Nage Melamed in fourth. California native Lakey Peterson took the firstplace Supergirl cape.

All four finalists won their quarterfinal heats, then Melamed and Peterson each won the semifinal heats with Manuel and Hurst in second, setting up the final.

“The Kaua’i girls made a great showing displaying poise, composure, power and flow in varying conditions,” says KQNG Radio Group’s Andy Melamed, who is Nage’s father and a well-known member of the island’s surf scene.

While the potential is evident on many of our shores, the elder Melamed says the infrastructure is not currently in place to bring Hawaii the birthplace of surfing to the forefront of the world ranks.

“While Kaua’i has five excelling surfers (the aforementioned trio along with Alana Blanchard and Bethany Hamilton), the future of Kaua’i and Hawaii surfing in general needs outside support,” Melamed adds, “a program directed toward ASP development in the form of sponsorship contests, training programs and a recognition of the sport in all walks of life is needed.”

Though the waves are typically the first thing the general public envisions when Hawaii comes up in conversation, the pro circuit doesn’t show our state the type of aloha that should be a no-brainer.

“Hawaii has the world champion this year, Carissa Moore, yet there is not one contest in Hawaii during the Triple Crown in November or December to support her accomplishments or to show the world how our Hawaiian female riders perform in the ‘real stuff,'” Melamed says.

Young local surfers and their families are out on their own, needing to show strong results from the start and work out sponsorship deals without any outside help. The same cannot be said for places such as Australia, Europe and Brazil, which continue to lead the way in girls surfing at the pro level.

“We have the waves, the conditions, the personnel and the talent,” Melamed says. “We simply lack the overall support and direction.”