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Posted by Mike Funk on


Tom and Duke, at Waikiki in 1936, with the first surfboard outfitted with a fin innovated by Tom the year before.

“I first met Duke Kahanamoku in 1920 in Detroit, Michigan on his way back from the Olympic Games in Antwerp, Belgium, where he won the 100-meter free-style swimming event. As I shook his hand that day I felt that somehow, he had included an invitation to me to come over to his own Hawaiian Islands.  In 1925 Duke and I were guarding stretches of the sand side by side as lifeguards at the Beach Club in Santa Monica. Finally, in 1936, both Duke and I were in his native Hawaii at the same time. To have been a surfing companion of Duke in his prime was a privilege accorded to me. We often rode the Hawaiian and California surfs together. To see him coming in at Waikiki on his long olo board was to see surfriding at its best. Somehow to me the Duke is the last of the Great Hawaiians, the man by which to measure the race; the surfrider by which to measure the surfriders of all time.”

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