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Robb, Kalani


Lightning-fast goofyfoot pro surfer from the North Shore of Oahu; world-ranked #6 in 2001. Robb was born (1977) in Kailua, Oahu, the adopted son of a landscaper-surfer father, began surfing in Waikiki at age seven, and moved with his family to the North Shore at 10. He had a remarkable amateur career, winning the menehune division of the 1989 United States Surfing Championships, finishing second in the boys' division of the 1992 U.S. Championships, winning both the juniors and men's divisions of the 1993 National Scholastic Surfing Association Nationals, and taking the juniors division of the 1994 World Championship.

Robb by that time had developed into one of the sport's quickest and flashiest small-wave riders, skimming effortlessly over flat spots, and able to launch a variety of high, spiraling aerial maneuvers. He later became an expert Pipeline rider, calmly placing himself deep inside the tube, then drawing a smooth, almost tranquil line to the exit. The spidery Robb (5'8", 140 pounds in his early years as a pro; he bulked up later) wasn't able to put much power into his turns, but few surfers had his measure in terms of balance and finesse.

Described—and probably burdened—in the mid-'90s as "the next Kelly Slater," Robb qualified for the world circuit in 1995 and finished the season ranked 20th, earning rookie-of-the-year honors. The following year he jumped up to #7, and indeed looked set to challenge Slater for the title. Robb then contracted malaria while surfing Grajagan, Java, in 1997, spent a week in the hospital, and seemed to lose focus. He finished the year ranked 11th, then dropped to 26th in 1998. (A bright spot came as he earned $30,000 for winning the 1997 Da Hui Backdoor Shootout at Pipeline.) He made a half-hearted return to form over the next three years, going from 17th to ninth to sixth.

The dark-haired and boyishly handsome Robb—youngest of the Slater-led New School gang—was featured in more than 50 surf videos, including Good Times (1995), Triple C (1996), These Are Better Days (1999), and Taylor Steele's Drive-Thru series. Robb sounded wise beyond his 21 years in a 1999 interview with TransWorld Surf magazine; when asked about the next phase in high-performance surfing, he noted that "everyone forgets that it's more of a lifestyle and an expression—so it's not the moves, it's the people." Amending the thought a few moments later, though, he allowed that the future of surfing was in the hands of "the psycho kids out there who want to do some crazy shit." Surf gossips were titillated in 1999 when surfer-model Malia Jones, named by People a few months earlier as one of the world's "50 Most Beautiful People," left Robb for fellow Hawaiian surfer Conan Hayes. 

After leaving the tour at the end of the 2005 season, Robb worked occasionally as an actor, and landed a small role in Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008). In a 2012 Surfer magazine article, Robb revealed that he had moved to inland Anaheim, California, and was working 9-5 hours as a marketer for a genetics research company.