Rush Randle

Wave Doctor

Rush Randle, the greatest wave-sports athlete you've never heard of, lives for the cutting edge. Ever heard of tow-in surfing? Randle, 31, along with fellow all-star Laird Hamilton, invented it on Maui's north coast in the early nineties. Ditto for kiteboarding, which made its debut in 1994–95, also on Maui. But his latest and greatest concoction is the upstart sport of foilboarding. The hybrid invention—which mounts an aluminum or carbon hydrofoil blade onto a wakeboard—got Hollywood treatment in Step Into Liquid and Billabong Odyssey, with sequences of foilboarders riding long, graceful swells. The physics are like that of an airplane wing: As the blade slices cleanly through the water, it provides so much lift that the board glides clear above the surface of the wave. The result is longer, faster, smoother rides—which may someday be the key to catching 100-foot waves. "It feels like flying," says Randle, who builds and sells foilboards on Maui, where he lives with his wife, Erin, and their seven-year-old son. "It's like being a pelican, riding the swells." So for now, the Oahu native has dialed back his competition in the wildly nichefied sports of flow surfing (done in artificial pools) and sling surfing (in which a jet ski flings the surfer at a wave, launching him into acrobatic aerials) to concentrate on the hydrofoil. When the right swell hits this winter, he'll be out there going the distance: "I want to take the longest ride on a single swell ever," declares Randle, whose personal best is two miles. "With the right swell, I think I can go 50."

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