From Phil Edwards to David Nuuhiwa, and on down the line, when it comes to pure, stylistic longboard surfing, the art and culture has always been carefully curated before being bestowed to the next generation.
One of those seminal transfers of power just happened at the Longboard Classic New York. With 1:10 left on the clock in the Round 5 matchup between two-time World Longboard Champion Joel Tudor and 18-year-old Hawaiian rising star Kaniela Stewart, the two surfers shared a seminal moment. Stewart took off on a small right-hander, Tudor took off in front of him and banked a turn back towards the pocket. Rail to rail, the two surfers switched boards mid ride. After cruising all the way to the beach, the two met on the sand, embracing and trading back their boards.
"Everyone's a good winner, but not many people are good at losing," explained Tudor after the heat. "When I was a pretty young age, my mentor, Donald Takayama, he was like, ‘Look, you can go out being cool or you can go out looking like a chump…but he was like, you probably want to go out being cool.' He said that if losing bothers you so much that you have to go out and look like a brat, don't compete. So I learned that early."
According to Stewart, it was only the second time the two had competed against one another. The first time being in a charity contest at Malibu for Surf Aid.
"Joel is such an amazing person, one of my favorite surfers in the world, I always look up to him," said Stewart.
The relationship between Tudor and Stewart runs deeper than simply an affinity for classic log jamming. Michael Takayama, the brother of Tudor's mentor and shaper Donald, who passed away in 2012, shapes all of Stewart's boards.
"I came here to kind of give my blessings to a new generation of kids that are competing in this thing," continued Tudor. "To end with a kid that just won one of my Duct Tape events in Portugal and put on a clinic of destroying the best guys, it's an honor to lose to him here. I told him to go on and win this thing, make me proud."
Earning a spot in the Quarterfinals in New York, Stewart has two previous fifth-place finishes on the Longboard World Tour this season at the Noosa Longboard Open and the Galicia Longboard Classic.