Born and raised on the east side of Oahu, Kahana Kalama is a surfer who lives in San Diego and owns the surf shop Aloha Sunday. He’s featured in episode 2 of “Surf Life.”
What’s your full name?
Christian Anthony Kahanakealohamainokalani Kalama
The Hawaiian part translates to the work of love that comes from the Heavens.
Where are you located?
A rad little neighborhood called North Park in San Diego, Calif.
How did you start surfing?
I was raised across the street from the beach in Kailua, Oahu. My earliest memories involve my entire family just hanging out at the beach. I can’t remember a time in my life that didn’t involve the ocean but I do remember that the first time I stood up on a hard surfboard was when I was 7 years old.
It quickly became the only thing I ever wanted to do. I entered my first surfing competition when I was 12 years old and did really well. I played soccer and baseball my entire life, but as I entered high school I pretty much stopped playing all other organized sports to focus on my surfing. Growing up in Hawaii I was surrounded by so many talented surfers and very few of them ever went pro, so to be honest I didn’t think it was possible. But I did know that I wanted to surf for the rest of my life.
Competitive surfing ran my life from the ages of 13-17. I surfed every single day after school, surfed contests every weekend and began surfing the North Shore of Oahu. However, this routine began to eat away at me… I was so focused on competition that I began to lose the feeling of why I started surfing in the first place. My friends and I turned into sour groms that really treated other people in the water pretty badly. After most of my surfing friends got pretty heavily into drugs and alcohol, I basically stopped surfing. I really didn’t touch a surfboard until I moved up to San Diego to attend Point Loma Nazarene University.
When did you get back into it?
It was in San Diego that I rekindled my love for surfing. However, at this point I vowed to never let my passion for being in the water get in the way of me treating others well. After a lot of coaxing from friends, and surfboard shapers I began competing again. I also learned a lot about what it takes to be a pro in that it’s filled with strategy as opposed to just being a really good surfer. At the time of my graduation I knew I wanted to travel, and I had several sponsors that were willing to pay me to travel and compete on the WQS. I did this as a pro for several years…
How did traveling affect you?
Being able to travel the world really set me on the path I’m on today in that it taught me to appreciate all people. I developed an intense love for other cultures and I was exposed to a lot of poverty and different types of social injustices. After a few pretty heavy trips I decided to shift my focus from competition to exposing some of these injustices and in some way help if at all possible. I worked on a few amazing projects in countries like Bangladesh, Nicaragua, and Indonesia in which we were able to tell stories of hope, and perseverance through adversity.
Tell us about the biggest wave you’ve caught.
I think some of the biggest waves I’ve caught have been down in Mainland Mexico. I happened to bump into Brian Conley on a trip and he used his jetski to get me into some of the biggest waves of my life.
Where’s your favorite surf spot in the world?
My favorite spot in the world would be on Kaneohe Marine Base on the east side of Oahu. It has the potential to get really good, and I feel at home and at peace there.
What local spots do you surf the most?
While in San Diego I probably spend the most amount of time at Blacks Beach in La Jolla.
How would you describe your style?
I would describe my surfing style as versatile. I pride myself in being able to ride everything from longboards to short boards on waves big and small. However, I most often ride shortboards and I’m much more of an aerial surfer than anything else.
Are you a goofy or regular?
What role do contests play in your sport – and how have you fared in them?
haha… they don’t. I do think they are a necessary thing to help legitimize surfing and to progress the sport. They definitely helped me get to where I am and allow a lot of surfers to make a living, but I personally could care less about them.
I’d prefer to be unconventional as opposed to text book competition guy. I spent so much time surfing in contest worrying about not falling and impressing judges, that now I’d prefer to have as much fun as I possibly can. The majority of the time that means going as fast as I can and trying to do airs. But it can also mean just doing weird things I’ve never tried or things I’ve never really seen anyone else do.
Tell us about your “quiver.”
I don’t really have a quiver, I kind of like to think of all of my surfboards as a communal sharing pool for all of my friends. However, right now because its summer in Southern California I’ve been riding a bunch of really short wide quads, a few mid-length single fin eggs, and a couple 5’9″ shortboards.
What philosophy do you approach the surf life with?
Live passionately, work hard, respect others and treat people well. I feel like it’s all about seeking balance.
In the past I’d say I was probably most recognized as a humanitarian surfer just because the majority of press I’ve received has been in editorial focusing on my work in another country. However, things are beginning to shift and I’m beginning to receive a little more attention because of my entrepreneurial efforts and being a young fashion focused guy that’s ushering in a new way of bringing products to market.
Who is your surf hero?
At the moment I’d have to say a mixture between Duke Kahanamoku and my Mom. Duke lived such a versatile life, and was involved in so many really cool things, and my mom because she’s 50 years old and she still loves surfing by herself.
Tell us about your family. What’s it like to raise your kids as the next generation of surfers?
I grew up in Hawaii and was born in to a long lineage of watermen. My parents always encouraged me to work hard at to seek out the areas of my life that I was uniquely talented in and I think that’s helped me out. If my kids to want to surf I think it’s important to help them learn how to respect and preserve the ocean. I also want to encourage them to think for themselves, and think differently while helping to instill in them that progress requires hard work.
You have your hands in several areas – giving, doing business and more … how does one feed into the other?
I value balance and in whatever I’m involved in would like to live by one synonymous approach to life. That way one area of my life won’t be contradicting what I am trying to do in another. My ethos and approach to surfing, our business and life in general is one in the same. It’s founded on respect, places a heavy importance in sustainability and living in community.
Tell us about your sponsors.
Because of my affiliation with Aloha Sunday I’m able to work with a number of shapers and brands. Rather than backing one shaper, one clothing brand, one eyewear brand and so on, I prefer to test and endorse every product that we sell through our store. Sharpeye surfboards has been making my traditional shortboards for the past six years and they’re amazing. I’ve also been getting into a lot of Jeff McCallum’s shapes for Kookbox Surfboards, and I’ve been working on a lot of experimental shapes with my good friend Josh Oldenburg.
Other brands that have supported me include Insight Surfboards, Sabre Eyewear, FCS and Canvas surfboards to name a few.
What’s next for you?
My mission right now is to create value in everything I’m doing. At the end of the day I feel like everything boils down to people. Whether it’s growing Aloha Sunday or surfing I want to create valuable relationships in which I am able to encourage and inspire others to be better, and vice versa. I guess my mission hasn’t ever really changed; I’m still interested in story that speaks to the resilience of the human spirit. I want to live a passionate life that ignites the same desire in others.
Aside from my plans with Aloha Sunday I plan on doing a lot more with my surfing. I’m working with Russell Brownley on a few film projects the first of which will most likely involve another trip to Bangladesh. We are still working out details but we are hoping to get down there some time next fall.
Watch Kahana in episode 2 of “Surf Life” Thurs., Aug. 30 at 10/9c on Halogen TV. Find Halogen on your local cable lineup. Get show updates: Follow @HalogenTV on Twitter | “Like” “Surf Life” on Facebook.