O’side ‘Old Timers’ Day’ celebrates surfing legend

OCEANSIDE — While it’s said humans are 60 percent water, it seems those who gathered at the California Surf Museum Old Timers’ Day celebration Oct. 5 were 100 percent liquid — surfers, boaters and divers who have lived life with no separation between themselves and the ocean.
Aloha spirit, ukulele music and surfing stories filled the air at the annual Old Timers’ Day gathering, which this year honored surfing legend Rabbit Kekai. Kekai is known as surfing’s first hot dogger and nose rider, and now heads the Rabbit Kekai Foundation that helps kids through surfing.
At 87 years old, Kekai says he still surfs as much as he can, choosing a three fin short board, or a 9- to 11-foot longboard.
Woody Ekstrom, California Surf Museum advisor, and last year’s honoree, said he has been surfing La Jolla Cove since 1944. Asked how old an “old timer” is, Ekstrom replied, it depends how fast you age.
Ekstrom added that the best thing about the good ol’ days was the close relationships among fellow surfers.
Mac McClendon, 81, who attended Old Timers’ Day with four generations of his family, agreed surfing was a bit more aloha and less aggressive when there were fewer surfers in the water.
McClendon said the years have brought some notable improvements to the sport like wetsuits and lighter boards.
Still, getting together with fellow surfers is what McClendon says he enjoys the most. “We get to visit, swap stories, and retell old lies,” McClendon said.

The Coast News Group
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