This oral history interview is a project of the Historical Committee of the Outrigger Canoe Club. The legal rights of this material remain with the Outrigger Canoe Club. Anyone wishing to reproduce it or quote at length from it should contact the Historical Committee of the Outrigger Canoe Club. The reader should be aware that an oral history document portrays information as recalled by the interviewee. Because of the spontaneous nature of this kind of document, it may contain statements and impressions that are not factual.
An interview by Paul A. Dolan
March 13, 2004
I am Paul Arthur Dolan (PAD), a member of the Outrigger Canoe Club’s Historical Committee. For sometime the Committee has been conducting oral interviews of prominent members of our Club. Today, it is my pleasure to interview Kristin Stevens Haine (KSH), a long time member of the Outrigger Canoe Club and an accomplished surfer beginning in the 60’s, and all-round sportswoman to the present. We are in the General Manager’s Office of the Club on a beautiful rainy Hawaiian day.
PAD: Good afternoon, “Kisi.”
KSH: Hi, Paul
PAD: Let’s get to some preliminary information. You were born where?
KSH: Here, in 1961, January 25 at Kapiolani Maternity Hospital.
PAD: Of course we know your parents, but tell us who they are for the record.
KSH: My father was a member here for many, many years. Thomas “Daddy” Haine passed away about ten years ago. He was an accomplished volleyball player. He was an Olympian in volleyball winning gold medals in 1968 and 1972. He paddled canoe and surfed. He was a great guy. He actually had a fatal heart attack in the fitness room of the Club.
My mom is from California. She met my dad there and they moved back to Hawaii after marriage. She played volleyball and was a great swimmer. She paddled canoe winning many women’s crew events over the years.
PAD: Your brother, Marc, also an outstanding athlete was awarded the “Winged O” in 2002
KSH: Yes, and in 2003, Charley Jenkins, Mark Rigg and I were awarded the prestigious designation for outstanding endeavors in athletics. I, for being an all-around water person and the other two awardees for their talent in volleyball and other sports.
PAD: So, in your family there are three “Winged O” awardees.
PAD: Outstanding! Talk about cornering the market. (laughter) Now to the subject at hand, when did you start surfing?
KSH: At five years old, about 1966. We used to go to Backwash or Hotels, surfed, either one. It’s a spot around the corner from the Club toward the Diamond Head Lighthouse. Backwash is a surf where the waves would hit the seawall and one could ride it back out through and over the incoming wave. We used to take out the big huge pink boards belonging to the Outrigger. Chunks of the surfboard would fall off as we hit the wall.
PAD: Now she tells us. Were they light boards?
KSH: Light! No. They were fiberglass and big thick, thick boards.
PAD: Were they balsa?
KSH: No, no they were foam. After I tried six or seven I acquired my own board. It was a thick heavy board and it used to smash my head and my dad said I had to carry it in and out of the water. We started off with big boards and later acquired smaller boards.
PAD: Oh, that’s a typical father. When did you become a member of the Club?
KSH: When I was ten. I got my member number and could then eat at the snack bar. Many of us brought our lunch from home. No money.
PAD: Where did you go to school?
KSH: I went to Punahou for thirteen years–kindergarten and up. Graduated in 1979 and then I went to Stanford, ’79 to ’83, and majored in human biology.
PAD: Wow! Are you using that now in your present vocation?
KSH: No, not really. (laughter) I use it a little. One is knowledgeable of muscles, bones, physiology, etc. The kids always ask questions about physical functions and I try to answer them to the point.
PAD: Your present employment?
KSH: Kalaheo High School in the Kailua area. I’m a physical education teacher.
PAD: DOE, rah, rah! One can’t beat the Department of Education.
KSH: Yeah. It’s a great job and the kids are pretty crazy.
PAD: Throughout your life time, how many boards have you own?
KSH: Ten, probably.
PAD: Did you have any mishaps, like big dings, etc.?
KSH: I’ve broken boards. I dinged myself. I’ve dinged other people.
PAD: No broken nose?
KSH: No, but BAMB! I’ve had stitches in my arm and lip.
PAD: You must have done a lot of pearl diving, didn’t you?
PAD: You know most of the place names of the surfs don’t you? Starting from Diamond Head Lighthouse going toward town can you name them?
KSH: Yes. There’s Diamond Head, Lighthouse, Sleepy Hollows, Suicide, Grave Yards, Radicals, Wench, Tongg’s, Rice Bowl, Sand Bar, Old Man’s, Peaks, No Place, Natatorium, Publics, Cunahs, The Walls, Queen’s, Canoes, Blow Hole, Baby Surf (aka Cornucopia), Populars, Hotels, Tigers, Kaisers and Bowls.
PAD: Outstanding, “Kisi”! Now-a-days in the Oahu street map books they name the surfs around Oahu. Pretty nifty!
KSH: The North Shore has all kinds of names. Ever hear of Marijuanas?
PAD: No! What was the best ride of your life?
KSH: Well, I’ve had several. I probably had the best one at Makaha. They (the local guys) let chicks surf there. I remember that the wave had a great drop and a great bottom turn and a little bit of a tube and I was able to carve the wave and made it into the backwash at the beach.
PAD: How big do you think the wave was?
KSH: It was about eight feet.
PAD: Isn’t there a controversy about measuring waves? I have always measured the face of the wave and not the backside. It’s the face of the wave that one has to contend with, especially the white water. In many photos of surfers, one can measure the height of the wave by the number of times the surfer fits into it. How does one measure from the back?
KSH: Oh really? You just cut it in half. An eight foot face would be measured a four foot wave. The wave that I caught was fifteen feet. I guess growing up we always measured from the back.
PAD: Did you ever have a close call in reaching for the surface after a wipe out?
KSH: Oh yeah. I’ve been in that situation and I just relaxed and floated to the surface.
PAD: We used to assume the fetal position and as soon as we felt we were ascending, we swam for the surface. Especially, when in deep water like Makaha and Waimea. It just pounds you right down and one loses sense of direction.
KSH: It’s interesting that you say that, because Malia Kamisugi who does tow-in surfing on those huge swells which turn into monstrous waves, and I say: “What happens when you eat it.” She says she attains the fetal position and let your self come up and then blast (swim) to the surface.”
PAD: We learned a heck of a lot when we were kids. Then when you surface, especially in big waves, here’s all this froth from the “white water” and you go” Ukkk, Ukkk! (laughter) You’re lucky to get your breath before the next big wave hits you. So, it was really Makaha that you had your best ride. How about here in Waikiki?
KSH: Yeah! I caught some fine waves at Old Man’s, real long ones. Probably one of my better waves, a fun one, was at No Place or Peaks. It’s a west swell that comes in on the right and it’s real . . .
PAD: Where’s that located?
KSH: To the right of the Outrigger. If you look straight out at the ocean, point to your right. Ever heard of Peaks? Those are the two breaks there.
PAD: See that’s what happens when a place becomes popular. All at once there is a name to it. Some of the names are far out. What’s the most dangerous situation you ever experienced?
KSH: Oh, I think at Rice Bowl. (laughter) It’s the surf to the right of Sand Bar next to Old Man’s (looking from sea). It’s a big left slide. I never go out there and I was 16 or so and I just remember hitting the bottom and being stuck and then popping up and then getting hit by another wave, and just becoming out of breath. That was a scary one.
PAD: Who were the wahines that you knew that surfed during your time?
KSH: Tracy Phillips, Laura Fagothy and Cindy Keiter. Not too many.
PAD: I think there are many more females now surfing since it’s become such an outgoing sport. It has just opened up world-wide.
KSH: It was this many when I was growing up to this many . . . HUGE! More opportunities for girls now. (laughter)
PAD: I feel fortunate in growing up in the “golden years” at the Outrigger’s old Club.
KSH: Yeh! There are just too many restrictions and rules now. Litigation! I hate that word.
PAD: “Surf Rage!” has reared it ugly head in the sport of surfing. I know of two haole guys that have been beaten up in separate incidents in the last three years. One was at Kaiser’s and the other at Hotels. “Surf rage,” like road rage has become quite a problem in this community of ours. I’m very sad to see that. No aloha spirit.
KSH: Yes, such a pleasurable sport, you know.
PAD: How much competitive surfing did you do?
KSH: Oh, not much. I was more into recreational surfing. I entered into the Outrigger surf meets. I did one in the “11 and under” one year. I surf the last couple of years over here and I think I was first one of the contest. I did Makaha, the Rell Sunn Tournament and I won my heat and was third in the finals.
PAD: Did you do any tandem surfing?
KSH: Yes! Bruce Ames and I used to do tandem. (laughter) I think I’d be lifting him now. (laughter) That’s what we joke about. When I was light at about eleven or twelve years old, he and I would do tandem, usually coming in first or second to Fred Hemmings, Jr.
PAD: We used to have a lot of fun at Makaha in acrobatic tandem events. It was just good fun and there were lots of cute gals. Have you seen the oldest trophy in the board room? It is the “Frank Clark” trophy first awarded in 1910 to Josephine Pratt (Paris) for the best amateur girl surfer. It was again awarded in 1917 to Josephine Hopkins (Garner) and to no one else thereafter.
KSH: Yes! I’ve seen it.
PAD: What interests you now in the surfs of Waikiki?
KSH: Yes, I’m most interested in Pops (Populars). It has fine waves, long rides and so many opportunities to catch a wave. It’s just a fun surf to be in.
PAD: Have you ever experienced “Steamer Lane?” (This surf occurs when a big south swell comes into Waikiki from a big storm in the South Pacific. The atmosphere changes in Waikiki because of the salt mist and discolored sea water.)
PAD: It was big stuff and only the experienced would surf. A couple of crazy guys would take a four-man canoe out (just like your brother Marc would) and catch these big things (15-20 Ft.) and get swallowed up in the white water. Usually the canoe endured better than the guys. These were beautiful koa four- man canoes like the ones “Toots” Minvielle, Jr. and “Yoyo” Ernesberg owned. When one waited for a swell, and one goes by, all you can hear is the wind going over the surface of the peak of the swell with a “whoosh.”
With regard to technology of the manufacture of surfboards now with tremendous improvement, allowing surfers to “hot dog” on the face of the wave. In our day, our boards didn’t let us “hot dog” because of the weight factor making maneuvering difficult. We’d be up a creek.
KSH: Well the shape has change so much and the length of the board has become so much smaller. They surf them like skate boards. The small waves to five to six feet; they literally surf with snap turns and climb the wave with ease. I don’t know. I like bigger boards.
PAD: Me too! They float a lot better. (laughter) “Kisi”, in this day and age, not only the technology has changed, but the procedures and the way they are surfing. One of the procedures that astound me is this “tow-in surfing,” which was first started in the 90’s. Explain to me what tow-in surfing entails?
KSH: The way I understand it and I have a friend Malia Kamisugi who loves tow-in surfing. She’s a dare devil beyond belief. One goes out in the deep ocean and one is towed into a big swell (like water skiing) by a PWC (Personal Water Craft – Jetski, Waverunner), using a small board. When in the big steep swell the tow line is released and the surfer will have caught this big swell, well prior to it breaking, where if just using muscle power, it would be impossible.
To me, it’s pretty scary and I don’t really want to do anything like that, but I know there have been some problems, because of the communities. I’m not really interested in it and I’m glad for some people are able to do it as long as they follow the rules. The rules you have just shown me are absolutely ridiculous. It’s so specific with all the GPS locations, etc.
PAD: Personal water craft hog the surf and create wakes deforming the waves, which a lot of the surfer become so huhu about. The technique that gets me is that one is still able to use a small board. One doesn’t need a big board. Also, it’s an unfair advantage over surfers using muscle power. There are presently proposed rules to control tow-in surfing by the Boating Division or the Department of Natural Resources. The rules cover the areas of the north shore, including Waimea and Makaha of Oahu, north shore-Maui and north shore-Kauai. Rules are usually adopted when there are abuses by the users.
I have to admit that surfing has become so popular world-wide that one will see a wave and some one is surfing it no matter where one goes.
KSH: Today, there are waves at one to two feet. It depends on how one measures it. Right? I’ve always measured the wave from the back.
PAD: Wow! I’ve always measured the face of the wave. What other way is there? If one sees a six-foot guy surfing and he is at the bottom of the wave and he fits himself only once . . .It has to be a six-foot wave.
KSH: How come it has always been measured from the back?
PAD: Who knows? I don’t know. The criterion is that when that wave breaks measuring from the back doesn’t make sense. It’s the face of the wave that wipes you out.
“Kisi,” have you anything to add? It’s been very specific about the subject matter we’ve been talking about and I know that you are an all-round water person and one of these days we’re going to get a bunch of you gals together and have a big “yak, yak” session. (laughter)
KSH: Paddling! Yeh, I just love the water. It’s so relaxing, recreational, and social and I get my exercise. It combines all those things.
PAD: You have to watch out (showing his arms with pre-cancerous sun damage). Good old Saul.
KSH: Yeh! I been in before to my doctor and I’ve have to go in again.
PAD: As one gets older it becomes worse. That’s one of the drawbacks about surfing, being out in the sun, surf and sand. One has to be well covered to avert damage. I’m glad to hear that you are still active in surfing. And you’re how old now?
KSH: Oh yeah, I love surfing and I’m forty-three. I’ll surf until I die.
PAD: Good for you! It depends on what your employment is. If you get into a sedentary type job, you’ll go out of your mind. With the job that you’re in it keep you physically active that you can enjoy all types of sports. I appreciate you sitting down with me this afternoon and if you think of anything to embellish or add to this oral history please do it. All I can say is thank you very much. Good luck, sportswoman and surfer girl. (laughter)
KSH: Thank you, Paul