David Nuuhiwa reached a level of fame few surfers can imagine. Whether it was his smooth styling in the waters of Waikiki in the 50's, his mastery of noseriding in the 60s, or his aggressive transition to the new shortboard in the 70's one thing is certain he was always leading the pack and taking the rest of us along for the ride. The 80's and 90's saw the rebirth of longboarding and again out in front was David Nuuhiwa developing new designs in longboards and winning contests showing us how it is done with style and grace. His career and life as a surfer has covered a broad range of development and changes but he has always stayed close to the soul side of surfing and shared this sense of aloha openly. Recently I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to chat with Mr. Nuuhiwa and get the views and concerns of one of surfings greats.
By : Mike Brock and get the views and concerns of one of surfings greats.
When did you start surfing?
DN: I was six when I did my first contest, in Hawaii.
What was it that first got you into the water?
DN: "Paipo" boarding (like a skim board made by Hawaiians) motivated me to get on a longer board.
Who were some of your early influences and mentors?
DN: Early influences were the beach boys of Hawaii and here is a list of some guys I thought were sooo cool; Nappy Napoleon, Bobby Achoy, Raymond Marie, Donald Takayama, and B.K.
Of all the places you have traveled to and surfed, what is your favorite whether for the waves, people, etc?
Tavarua, Fiji goes back in time at least 100yrs. The waves and people are awesome!
What motivated you to start shaping and designing surfboards?
The only motivation to shape was to make me board quick! I was practicing for a contest at Huntington Beach Pier and the lifeguard kept throwing me out cuz of blackball (method used at HB to keep surfers out of water, so the swimmers wouldn't get hit by the boards. But they allowed skimboards and boogie boards). I said what's the dimensions I can ride? I went home and shaped the shortest twin fin fish, ever! I ran into the same lifeguard at a dealership, where I got my truck! I only help with the designs, leave the shape to the masters, such as Steve Walden is happening!
In your entire quiver of boards what is your favorite to ride?
Favorite board is the oldest! A Bing/Nuuhiwa Noserider, or a Nuuhiwa Noserider "Comp" Model, and I am going to try out my new design, called the "Ray" this weekend at Waldens.
With the growing popularity of Longboarding and the "retro" movement a lot of people are starting to explore the midlength single fin designs of the late 60's early 70's. What do you think of the rediscovery of these mid-size shapes?
Your surfing has covered several decades of our sports history. What do you feel was the best decade to be a surfer? Why?
Best decade to be a surfer was the 60s-70s, Soulful!
You reached a level of popularity few surfers even dream of . You have been considered by many one of the greatest "soul men" surfing has ever seen and have influenced countless numbers of surfers. What do you think of being considered so influential in surfings history?
I guess, I don't think about it, doesn't make me any money, haha, but has got me in a lot of doors. (My wife gets bummed when a groupie showed up at the backdoor!)
Who do you feel is the most influential surfer out there today?
Most influential surfer is probably Joel Tudor and Kelly Slater, oh and Donald Takayama, he helps promote so many guys. He's too cool!
In your life and career as a surfer what do you feel has been the biggest challenge you have faced?
New goals and challenges and bad water, I want to clear!
Where would you like to see surfing a few years from now?
A much different level. I want to see surfing respected #1! I want to see the contests giving money to charities and not think of themselves so much. I would like to see the competitors getting higher purses and us "old dudes" put on a tour like the golfers. For surfers to remember God made all this water, and us!
Tell me your favorite surf story or memory , I am sure you have tons of them.
My favorite memory was making Rainbow Bridge, with Jimi Hendrix. I never surfed better, it was awesome to surf and be filmed and in the same movie with him and his music! Sit around and talk with him, what a gas!
What advise would you like to pass on to today's surfers?
My advice to new surfers is not to take it so seriously, have fun! Respect longboarders as well as short and become one with it, instead of splitting it up! It makes me sad when Hawaiians or Polynesians started surfing, and then to hear some young guy yell "longboarder!" we are all on the same team and someday they will enjoy the art of longboarding. If you are a contestant, not to make a big scene if a judge has a poor ruling, our children are watching. And, oh, I wish I would have practiced what I preach!
After this interview concluded Jan (David's wife) offered this favorite story:
One of David's favorite stories happened in Florida.
We were on a trip with Donald Takayama, Sid (his wife), Dale Dobson, and a few others. We all had a ball, DT rented a "disco" looking van all lit up with tiny lights. We all looked like Cheech and Chong everywhere we went. We went to Mike Tabeling's house saw his cannons and dablooms he collected from the sea, ate one dozen blue crabs each. But the best part was David had gone into a magic shop and got cigarette "loads". Waiting for the perfect moment, Donald asked for a cigarette ,David had placed it perfectly in the pack. Kaboom!, right in the Daytona Speedway. There must have been 20 people with us, all eyes on Donald, we about fell out of the grandstand! David put about 5 loads in and it almost blew off DT's eyebrows, but to see the blown cig hanging from his lips was priceless! David continued through the next week catching Donald again, and any unsuspecting surfer. He blasted Sid in an elegant restaurant.