Press "Enter" to skip to content

‘Something that I’ll always remember’ — surfer Charles Smith brings home gold to Kaua‘i

LAWA‘I — There’s a shiny new trophy on the South Shore.

Lawa‘i resident and avid surfer Charles Smith, 60, brought home gold last month after taking first place in the Hawai‘i Surfing Association State Championship’s 60-plus shortboard division.

Having surfed for more than 50 years, it was a long time coming.

Born and raised in Cocoa Beach, Florida, Smith first started surfing at age 6, learning from his parents and older siblings on the weekends.

“Our whole family would surf and barbecue, and my dad would catch some fish,” Smith said. “It just became, like, our family lifestyle was going to the beach and enjoying the water.”

Smith first visited Kaua‘i in 1972 to meet a friend’s brother, who had recently moved to Po‘ipu. Having already surfed for a few years, Smith immediately took interest in Kaua‘i’s world-class waves.

“We’d surf PK’s and acid-drop in Centers, and just walk to the beach and surf,” he said. “I just kind of fell in love with Kaua‘i.”

Smith and his brother Harry would move to the island in 1978, where Smith graduated from Kaua‘i High School, and later, Kaua‘i Community College. During this time, he began competing in Kaua‘i’s local surfing tournaments. And in 1985, Smith qualified for the state championship on O‘ahu — his first appearance of many.

The championship, held at Ala Moana Bowls in Waikiki, is an annual event where each island sends its best surfers to compete.

Although Smith has surfed in the championship about 25 times in his lifetime, he ultimately fell shy of gold each appearance — until this April, when he placed first in the 60-plus shortboard division, as well as claiming silver in the 60-plus longboard division and fifth place in the all-ages men’s longboard division.

Smith expressed to The Garden Island how grateful he was to compete this year.

“It was a great vibe,” he said. “Everyone was real happy, the waves were amazing — the wind was offshore, the conditions were good, the tide was nice. It was just a wonderful day … for me, it was a great experience and something that I’ll always remember.”

Still, he emphasized that above any award, getting to ride the waves is a reward of its own.

“I just enjoy participating, no matter if I get first, fourth, fifth or sixth,” he said.

Smith also spoke on the deeply motivating experience of watching some of Hawai‘i’s surf legends continue competing through the tournament’s 74-plus division.

“Jock Sutherland, Craig Sugihara, Alan Wicklund … it was very inspiring to see those guys ripping,” he said.

As for 60-year-old Smith, between competing on O‘ahu, running a surf school in Po‘ipu and surfing across Kaua‘i in his free time, he told The Garden Island that he has no intentions of leaving the waves behind any time soon.

“I want to continue surfing until the day I die,” he said. “It brings me joy and happiness, and it makes a bad day good. I come out of the water after a good surf session and I just feel good. It makes you feel relaxed and really keeps me composed in my daily life.”

He continued, “It teaches me a lot about life, the ocean. The high tide, the low tide, the big waves, the small waves — they teach you about the ebb and flow of life, and also the joy of life. We live in a beautiful place where it makes you appreciate, and be thankful and grateful.”


Jackson Healy, reporter, can be reached at 808-647-4966 or
Source: The Garden Island

Be First to Comment

    Leave a Reply