Ikaika Kalama Interview from the 2006 Towsurfer Vault

Ikaika “Power” Kalama
From: Big Island of Hawaii
DOB: 9/19/79
Age: 23
Height: 5’10”
Weight: 180lbs.
Eyes: Brown
Hair: Black
Years Surfing: 23
Years Towing:7
Other Interests: Fishing
Residence: North Shore Oahu
Sponsors: Plumeria, Xcel, DaHui, AllBus

Objectives: Develop myself into the ultimate Hawaiian Waterman

Milestones: Birth of my daughter Ka’anohiokealohanani Vaiti Hereau Kalama

Winner 2003 Jaws Expression session

Joining forces With Garrett to form a full-on, full-time extreme surfing team

Exposure: Vogue Magazine, numerous surf mags.

Achievements: Just bought a sick Cadillac

Goals: Keep the Cadillac running!!!

Towsurfer.com: You come from one of the “Royal Families” of surfing. How freaked out would your family have been if you had decided to be, like an accountant or lawyer or something?
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My family would have supported me no matter what but I grew up on the ocean so there was no other place for me to really go.
How young were you when you first got out on a board?
My dad threw me in the ocean before I even knew how to swim, so thanks to him I never really got out of the water again. I paddled my first surfboard when I was about 6 years old.

How young were you when you started to get pulled into the “business” side of surfing?
By the time I was 12, my dad had me sponsored by two different clothing companies at the same time. When both companies were at a contest, I had to keep running over and changing my shorts depending on which team captain was nearby. [laughs]

Most people know that your father had the honor of crewing the first Hokule’a voyage from Hawaii to Tahiti in 1976. Has that had any special impact on your life?
Totally! I give a lot of respect for the crew and what they’ve done for the Hawaiian culture. If anyone can navigate a voyage using only the stars, I feel that as a Hawaiian, I can do anything I believe in.

Your family tree reads like a who’s who of Hawaiian watermen. Did anyone in addition to your father help inspire you to become a waterman?
Buffalo Keaulana first and foremost! But the list goes on and I’ll just name a few. Guys like The Duke, Uncle Terry Ahue, Uncle Mel Pu’u, and aunty Rell Sun were all important inspirations. Uncle Brian Keaulana, for me, is not only the best but the most important waterman there is. I’ve always looked up to what he’s done in the ocean but he’s also an inspiration on land.

Wow, that is an impressive list of family. Do you ever feel pressure to live up to their accomplishments?
No, I never felt any pressure. I just wanna follow in the footsteps that they created.

Right now you guys are on hold, waiting for Jaws to happen. Your new partner, Garrett McNamara, won last year’s contest with his partner “Monster”from Brazil. You guys are favored to win again this year, particularly after your amazing team work at the “Expression session”. Do you feel any obligation to live up to what Garrett and Monster achieved last year?
Yeah, WIN!.[laughs] I think every team there will be strong competitors. I give a lot credit to what Garrett and Monster did last year. Monster’s a really nice guy and I wish his team the best of luck. But, I think our toughest competitor is Peahi.

Although you won the Expression Session, it didn’t come with out pain. What happened to your shoulder during the event?
I had caught some good waves and was feeling really comfortable out there and this was my mistake. I caught a bomb and did a big bottom turn on the inside bowl and went right through the section and thought I had it until my board caught a rail, the brakes went on. And it was pretty bad after that. I flew forward and landed on my shoulder really hard. When I popped up, I noticed my shoulder was knock out of its socket and it hurt like hell. I basically had to throw my shoulder back into place right there and then. Garrett said that’s it, we’re done and I said give me one more and ended up catching another four solid waves.

What do you and Garrett do when you aren’t surfing or training?
PARTY!! You know, get AllBus…(laughs) Actually, I just bought a new G-4 laptop so I’ve been turning into a computer freak.

Your nick-name is “Power”. Where did that come from?
Ah-dunno. Garrett says I’m a power surfer so it was his call. But actually Ikaika means strength or power in Hawaiian. So that’s all I have to say about that.

Ok, tell me about the Cadillac.
800 bucks! Green, with surf racks & full of chicks! B-Ware of the AllBus Cadi!!!

I see B-Ware written all over cloths in Oahu. What’s up with that? If you were to ask Johnathon, he would say, “Watch It!”.

How does it really work out there in the middle of a bunch of 40 foot waves? As team mates, how do you communicate? How do you know when the time is right to go? 
That’s where training comes in. Out there, communication is everything. Every team has their own way of communicating. Garrett and I go on instinct as to which wave will be better. We’ve worked and practice together so much that we already know what we want, whether we’re on the ski or on the rope.

You and Garrett towed Waimea on February 6, 2002. As far as I know, no team has ever done this before. What a novility!
It was so sick bra! Yeah, and a novelty it was to be the first to do it. It wasn’t like giant or anything but there were some 15’-18’ sets on a really bumpy surface and lots of confused ocean to deal with. There were a lot of fun bowls and some mean sections to go around and it just turned out to be another fun training session as Garrett always says.

By the time this interview is out you’ll be in Tahiti with your Dad and Daughter. What do you have planned while you are over there?
Going to check a friends wedding and party with out the Cadi. Should be a lot of fun with family and friends. I’ll be hooking up with Arsene Harehoe and Teva Noble two very well known surfers and tow surfers over there. I am also in a contest at Point Venus called Dahui Annual. There should be some good swell too!

You are much younger than Garrett and most accomplished tow-in surfers have said that age and experience is what adds to the success of an athlete and team. How do you think you would have done in the “Expression Session” without Garrett?
B-Ware!!! Na, Garrett drives me hard and we pump each other up. It’s hard to say how things might have turned out without him as a partner. I know that without him, I wouldn’t be where I am today with the contest.

Mahalo Ikaika

Great interview my man. Aloha.

For more insane images by Steven Kornreich, check out beachlook.com

— 2003 / Towsurfer.com