The Barefoot Publisher: George Downing

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I will always remember my conversations with Uncle George at his shop, on the beach at
Makaha and Waimea Bay. Those conversations were always enjoyable, enlightening and
educational. I’ve always asked if I could feature him in Makai Magazine, but he always
said, “Nah, no need, what I share is for friends and family, and that’s all who need to know.” Back then, I didn’t realize how big a group his ohana and friends would be! It is huge, it is definitely global!

Uncle George not only surfed huge waves, but also started a canoe club (Waikiki Surf
Club), and a surf meet (The Eddie Aikau Big Wave Contest). He paddled across the Kaiwi
Channel (the Moloka’i Hoe), and introduced and championed Kayaking in Hawaii. He
created some of the most innovate, custom-shaped, quality renown surfboards in the
world.

Those talk story sessions were in his office in the back of the store. His ideas of how the
Ala Wai Canal should have been made, his 6-man outrigger canoe crossings of the Kaiwi
Channel, and how much fun it was.

He talked about how some Hawaiians once had property in Waikiki, however, it was prior
to the concrete city now. He saved beaches and parking lots, and could read the weather
just by looking at the sky. Once, at Makaha, the surf was “knarly” but Uncle George looked
up in the sky and said, “the conditions will change soon, and the waves will become nice,
and will clean up.” It did.

Even before the City had their engineers dredge sand from outside of Waikiki to place on
the shore, he said it would disappear…and it did.
To this day, when the conditions are not too favorable, I look into the sky not knowing
what to look for and say, “the surf is going to get better.” It can only get better, right?
Uncle George always knew what he was looking at. I, on the other hand, haven’t the slightest idea…but Uncle George knew.

Aloha Oe Uncle George. We will miss you.

George Downing 1930 – 2018,

A hui hou,
Lono