Up & Coming: Hawaii State Champion Kahanu Cuban

Kahanu Cuban


Myers Surfboards, Poly Love Hawaii

Where were you born?

I’m originally from Honolulu, but I am currently living in Hauula , but my Tutu, whom I visit often, still lives in town so I get the best of both sides of the island.

Where do you attend high school?
I attend Ke Kula Kaiapuni o Anuenue and I’ve been going there since Kindergarten. I’ve been a Hawaiian immersion student since pre-school at Punanaleo o Kawaiahao.

When are you finished with school?

I’ll be a junior in the upcoming year. After I graduate from high school, I’m planning on going to college at either Point Loma Nazarene University in California or University of Hawaii at Manoa. I am hoping to one day, be a professor in Hawaiian language.

How long have you been surfing?

When I was about 5 years old, both my parents would force me to surf. I wasn’t interested at that time and while my parents took turns surfing, I would just look for sea cucumbers and sea urchins on the rocks at Kewalo. My younger sister, La’awahine Cuban, surfed more than I did at that time, until in the summer when I was about 7 years old, my ‘ohana and I were at China’s Surfing Classic in Waikiki. We spent for the entire weekend in Waikiki and I decided to try an SUP. After I got the paddling down, I tried catching a wave, when I caught a wave on the SUP, I decided to try catching a wave on a longboard. By the end of that weekend, after catching a plethora of waves on the longboard, I was hooked.

How old were you in your first con-test and which contest was it in?

I was probably 8 years old when I decided to try entering the T&C Grom contest in Waikiki. Man, it was eye opening! I lost of course, but realized I had so much to learn and was determined to get better. Entering as many competitions as possible, I improved my surfing competitively, and became more comfortable during heats. Being eliminated is never easy and I get bummed for a couple of days, but the main thing to remember is to have fun.

Where is your favorite surf spot?

I’d rather keep my favorite surf spot a secret. Every other day after school, my Tutu would take me surfing. My home break in town is Straightouts and Rennekes. During the winter, Chun’s is my jam! Sometimes if my mom and sisters paddle out, we’ll have our own little contest. But I can’t be that competitive with them because let’s face it, I still gotta go home with them afterward.

What other sports did you play?

I’ve mostly dedicated myself to just surf-ing. Growing up, I did play soccer for a couple of years. Then I realized that soccer is too much running. But my two little sisters La’awahine Cuban and Moonlight Cuban are beast in playing soccer!Since soccer was in a way of my surfing, I complained at every game because all I wanted to do was surf.

What do you do for cross training?

Anuenue made it a requirement for Kula Ki’eki’e (High school) and Kula Waena (Middle school) students to participate in an “in-school” biathlon of running and swimming every year. So we practiced every week leading up to this event at the Magic Island Lagoon. I usually suck at the running part but I make up for it in the water. In middle school for my first year of the biathlon, I placed 2nd overall. My last year of the biathlon in High school, I placed 1st overall.

Have you been on any surf trips?

Not really. I haven’t been on any surf trips that require a passport yet but I really want to go to Noosa in Australia. I’ve only been to Maui and California so far. Last sum-mer, I won the Ole Longboard Classic on Maui.

What is the recent contest you’ve won?

Man, I was on a roll and hit a lucky streak toward the end of the HSA 2016-2017 sea-son. I won at Haleiwa in the 17 and under Junior Longboard division. It means a lot to me that day. For years Haleiwa has always been my kryptonite spot. I could never win there. Then after Haleiwa, I was off to HSA State Championships at Ala Moana Bowls. Over the years, I’ve built friendships with my competitors and it’s never easy being in a final with all my friends. States was tough. After 3 years of hard work and development in HSA, I’ve finally been awarded the 2016-2017 State Championship Junior longboard title. I was so happy and excited!

You are heading to the mainland, where are you going and how many people are representing Hawaii?

The longboard and adult divisions for Surfing America is gonna be held at theOceanside North Jetty, California. There’s going to be at least 15 competitors head-ing over there from Hawaii. It’s awesome because all the Hawaiian surfers will be heading to California. It’s like a big ‘oha-na going up to compete.

How did you feel when you won the contest and earned the privilege to represent Hawaii?

After they announced that I was awarded the State Champ title, It didn’t sink in. I was surprised. My shaper, Carson Myers was super stoked! Especially since he came down to watch my heat. The pressure was on. What better way to make my ‘ohana proud.

Who are your favorite surfers?

I consider watching surf videos on You-Tube a part of my training. Nelson Ahina is one of my favorite surfers from Hawaii, especially since we share home breaks. So I consider him to be a friend and mentor. Joe Aaron is another really good surfer from California that I ad-mired when I was younger. His style is killer old school.