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16 Feb '11

TALKING ABOUT EZEKIEL LAU

Posted by admin in Ezekiel Lau
By Daniel Ikaika Ito/Contrastmagazine.com
Photo Credit: Free Surf Magazine

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Itʻs Aloha Friday at Kewalo Basin and Iʻm being interviewed about Ezekiel Lau. The 17-year-old is on the Native Hawaian News show, Ahai Olelo Ka Ola’s list of kanaka maoli to watch in 2011. We are at “Zekeʻs” homebreak– the wave that shaped Lauʻs surfing. Itʻs a reefbreak with a rippable left that corners into the jetty and a racy-right hander over shallow coral heads. The right is Zekeʻs launch pad where he dialed his aerial attack. This wave is the training grounds for the current crop of surfing talent from Hawai‘i. Surfers like Carissa Moore, Nelson Ahina, Keanu Asing and the Moniz kids grew up shredding here with Lau.
“Ezekiel Lau is like the Hawaiian Jordy Smith,” I tell the cute, Hawaiian reporter. Smith– a World Tour surfer from South Africa– posses a technical-repertoire of airs (ie. Superman and Rodeo Flip) with powerful-tail-blowing turns. Lau– an amateur surfer from Honolulu– possess a growing-repertoire of airs (ie. Superman and still working on the Rodeo Flip) with tail-blowing turns that are accentuated with classic, Hawaiian power.
Yes, I’m very bias, which is the reason I was asked to talk about Zeke. I am a surf team coach for Kamehameha Schools, and Lau, who is a junior, is our star-surfer-athlete. In some respects, Lau is to the Kamehameha surf team what Tim Tebow was to Florida Gator football. Sans Tebow’s missionary family and creepy anti-abortion commercial.
The shcool administration, and TV show interiviewning me, are well aware of Lau’s talent and value. But, Zeke’s budding surf career and school policy don’t always mesh well.
During the Vans presents the HIC Pro at Sunset Beach last November, there was a miscommunication with Lau and Kamehameha. Zeke competeed in the 4-Star Association of Surfing Professionals Qualifying Series event, but failed to alert the KS administration early enough.
“Pretty much had a little controversy with school– missing school,” said Zeke to me at the Volcom Pipe Pro last month. “I didn’t let (the administration) know that I was missing school in time so I had some trouble from that.”
As a result of the Sunset comp, the administration dropped Zeke two-letter grades in all of his classes. Kamehameha policy dictates that a student recieves one-letter grade drop for every day cut. Although this infuriated me– as a surf coach, Kamehameha alum, journalist and surfer– I didn’t realize that something positive would come from this.
“We talked to the principal and they worked with us more and we need to just let them know earlier that I’m going to be in the event,” said Zeke. “We had it covered for the (Volcom Pipe Pro) so they let me go. It made me more on top of my school work. If anything it kept me more focused on what I have to do.”
I was baffled that a teenager was able to see the light at the end of the tunnel while I was still punching the walls in the darkness. Zeke’s maturity and outlook on the future is what impresses me more than his mind-blowing-modern approach to waves. Surfing and school seldom see eye-to-eye, which is why so many parents are putting their super groms into home school. They want to avoid the hassels and limitations of traditional school to allow their kids to elevate their wave riding and pro career opportuinities.
“It’s kind of hard to keep my focus on the contest and school, but if I keep my focus in school it will help me keep my concentration on what I need to do for the contest,” said Lau.
While attending Kamehameha School will always be a privelage, more often than not it’s a sacrifice for Zeke and his fledgeling career.
“I can’t travel that much because of school so to have an event like this to get my name out is great,” said Lau of the Volcom Pipe Pro.
Zeke is no stranger to sacrifice. He wakes up before sunrise three times a week to run, swim and train before school with Kimo Middlesworth, Kekoa Cazimero, Nick Mita, Sean Moody, Joel Centeio and Ryan Kelly. Then Zeke goes to school. There’s no other kids his age around the surf world putting in that much work.
So when the pretty, reporter asks me, “Does Ezekiel Lau have what it takes to be a world champion of surfing?” I emphatically reply, “Most definitely! Zeke posses the pyhsical attributes of a world champ, but more importantly, has the willingness to sacrifice and the mental fortitude to be a world champion.”