Kinimaka, Titus


Imposing Hawaiian surfer from Kalapaki, Kauai; a Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau competitor from 1986-2009; regarded since the mid-'70s as the guardsman and figurehead of Kauai surfing. "People might think that I'm some kind of heavy," Kinimaka told Surfer magazine in 1986, "but I'm just holding heritage, holding roots."

Kinimaka was born (1955) and raised on Kauai, the 13th of 16 children born to a ceramic mason father and nurse mother, both of whom surfed. Titus' older brother was a Waikiki beachboy, and Duke Kahanamoku was a frequent visitor to the Kinimaka household; Titus himself began riding waves at age four.

While Honolulu and the North Shore were the focus of attention among Hawaiian surfers during Kinimaka's formative years, his talent was obvious, and in 1976 he was invited to the Smirnoff Pro-Am, at Sunset Beach. He also surfed in the last two Duke Kahanamoku Invitational events, in 1983 and 1984.

The low point of Kinimaka's surfing life occurred on Christmas morning, 1989, when he broke the femur on his right leg while surfing Waimea, and had to be airlifted from the lineup to a Honolulu emergency room for surgery. In 1995, Kinimaka and Terry Chung became the first to tow-surf in Kauai, riding 35-foot-plus waves at King's Reef. Kinimaka competed in the 2002 Tow-In World Cup, held at Jaws, Maui.

Kinimaka has appeared in a small number of surf movies and videos, including Bali High (1981), The Mondo X-treme X-periment (1992), and Wordz (2002). Nihi, a Quiksilver-produced documentary on Kinimaka, was released in 2003; it debuted at the Playboy mansion in Los Angeles, as Kinimaka had recently done some (non-nude) modeling for the magazine.

The smoky-voiced Hawaiian released True Blue, a rootsy, world music album in 2007; Full Circle, the follow-up, came out in 2008. Maluhia Kinimaka, Titus' daughter, was a top-ranked juniors division surfer in the 2010s.