DeSoto starts long weekend with win
By Dayton Morinaga
Advertiser Staff Writer
Duane DeSoto chose tradition over rest yesterday, and it paid off with a victory in China Uemura's 24th Annual Longboard Surfing Classic. In 1- to 2-foot waves at Kuhio Beach, Waikiki.
The contest has been run by former longboard surfing national champion China Uemura and his family every year since 1985.
China Uemura's contest is also about raising money for a cause. All proceeds from the three-day surf contest will be donated to the Shriners Hospital for Children.
"I really have to thank the people and sponsors who have come through over the years," Uemura said. "Without them, this contest wouldn't continue."
He said he would like to do something special for the 25th annual contest next year, but is not sure what his budget will allow.
"The main thing is for everybody to have fun," he said. "If that happens, and we can still make money for the charities, I'm happy."
The prize purse for the pro-am division was created through sponsorships and the entry fees from the professional surfers.
"I made this contest to help the charities, but I added the pros couple years ago," Uemura said. "They don't have that many events in Hawai'i for the pro longboard guys, and a lot of them grew up surfing this contest, so I wanted to help them out a little bit, too."
Now an established professional surfer, DeSoto topped a field yesterday that featured most of the state's top longboard surfers.
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DeSoto said: "Uncle China is a competitor, so he's been there just like us. He's trying to build the sport. He's finding ways to make it more exciting for everybody involved."
All surfers in the contest had to ride surfboards at least 9 feet long. Uemura said he restricts his contest to longboard surfing because that is what he used to ride when he was an international competitor in the 1970s.
Many of the professional competitors in yesterday's contest also entered the stand-up paddle surfing division.
Kekoa Auwae, who placed second to DeSoto in the pro-am final, won the men's stand-up paddle surfing final.
Candice Appleby won the women's stand-up paddle surfing final.
The age-group amateur divisions for the contest are scheduled to run today and tomorrow at Kuhio Beach, Waikiki.
Uemura said more than 230 longboard surfers are expected to compete in the amateur divisions.
"The way the economy is going, I'm surprised we got that many entries," he said. "It's a real good feeling when people spend the money to come from the Neighbor Islands and all over this island to support this contest because it all helps the charity."
Uemura said the dozens of companies that sponsor the event are also vital to the success. He said Bud Light, Piko, Macy's and Crymson were the major contributors this year.
Reach Dayton Morinaga at firstname.lastname@example.org
Check the Honolulu Advertiser for the results for all events like the 32-mile Quiksilver Edition Moloka'i to O'ahu Paddleboard Race.