Hawaii Adventure: Keala Kennelly’s Top Five Tips for Beginning Surfers


Keala Kennelly, who's starred in Blue Crush and John from Cincinnati, has been surfing since she was in her mother's womb. Her mom was still riding waves at six months pregnant, so KK's been at it longer than she can remember. Add to that the fact that Laird Hamilton is her godfather, and it's no surprise that she turned out to be someone who can really rip. Kennelly's retired from the pro tour, but she still travels around the world to promote women's surfing. The 2009 U.S. Open offered a historic $100,000 prize to the winner for the men, but the top woman got $10,000–and that's only because KK demanded more for the girls.

I was lucky enough to get a chance to learn from her one on one. It was my first lesson, and she shared with me her top tips for beginning surfers:

1. Work on doing push ups on the beach before you get in the water. Lay on the board, push like a push up, and pop up.

2. Paddling is key. Ninety percent of it out there is paddling, so learn to paddle properly. You want to cup your hands and be able to pull some water, kind of like freestyle swimming.

3. When you go to catch a wave, don't go too far forward on the board because you'll nose dive. Make sure the nose is up out of the water.

4. When you paddle to catch a wave, paddle really strong, so you get a bit of momentum going. Once you feel that wave pushing you, that's when you want to pop up to your feet.

5. You want to pop up and get your feet beneath you because if you get up in stages, you start to tip.

–Aileen Torres

The most popular annual Ironman event will take place at Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii Saturday, October 10. Outside Online'sAileen Torres will be covering the big day, and she's also writing anaccompanying blog, “Hawaii Adventure,” for tips on what to doand where to stay if you're planning to visit.