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San Clemente Journal

The Beauty of Gold

Oct 13, 2021 11:26AM ● By Don Kindred

Carissa Moore

Publisher's Message

by Don Kindred

In 1912, Duke Kahanamoku, the native Hawaiian, gold medal-winning swimmer and the father of modern surfing first lobbied the International Olympic Committee to include surfing as an official event. It took over a hundred years, but the dream never died.  Even in 2021, the question of whether or not surfing’s pandemic-delayed debut was going to happen at all, was left unanswered right up until it finally did.

The women’s final took place in less than ideal conditions. Tsurigasaki Beach, the long awaited world stage for the historic event had become a “typhoon-maddened sea.“ Carissa Moore, the native Hawaiian representing the stars and stripes, was up against Bianca Buitendag of South Africa, both chasing the grail of Olympic surfing’s first crown. Moore’s first ride had gained her only a half a point, but Buitendag hadn’t scored at all. 

Patience runs thin when the clock is ticking, and nerves tighten up like piano strings, but Moore managed to find one diamond in the rough sea and hit a good score. Then, with 16 minutes to go, a sign appears ... a rainbow, (I’m not making this up), the very symbol of her native culture, parts the darkened sky. Some speculated that perhaps the Duke himself was taking a peek at the action. They recalled a word in the Native Hawaiian language, Hōailona, which signifies an omen, where someone is being watched over by their ancestors, or some other significant figure from the past. Works for me, worked for Carissa, she rode it gloriously to gold. 

In a beautiful moment, she was pulled from the shore to the shoulders of her coaches, knowing full well she had already ridden the shoulders of all who had gone before her. Joy and tears spilled from her face as she raised the American flag above her head like she was about to fly. It was a great moment for the sport of surfing, the state and the Aloha culture of Hawaii, the San Clemente-based US Olympic Surf Team, and the forever first American Gold Medalist in Women’s Surfing, Carissa Moore.