comes full circle
Finding that perfect wave became part of the job description for Makaha native Keoni Watson
, who traveled to foreign lands as a professional surfer more than a decade ago and rode untouched waves hidden throughout pockets of the world.
travels to places like the Philippines, Japan and Peru exposed 34-year-old Watson
to a variety of cultures, he
journey has "come full circle" - back to the west side of O'ahu - where he's
retired from the professional scene to enjoy the natural beauties of Makaha.
"I just feel so lucky to live in a place like Hawai'i," said Watson, who moved over to the business aspect of the surfing industry and serves as Billabong's Hawai'i sales representative.
Today Watson still spends his
every free moment in the ocean, but in addition to surfing with his
16-month-old son Koa at "secret west side spots," he
is gliding across the water's surface in his
one-man canoe or pulling the sea while on his
Double wins in paddle races
championed the sport of paddle boarding with two consecutive wins - one for the Quiksilver Edition Paddle Race and a second for the Catalina Classic.
In July, he
placed first in the Quiksilver contest while racing 32 miles from Moloka'i to O'ahu.
came in at 5 hours and 39 minutes for the Stockboard
Solo Elite division, with Maui's Kiva Rivers trailing closely behind.
Stock paddleboards are 12 feet in length, while other divisions - like the unlimited category - allow participants to use boards of any size.
A month later, Watson
went on to win the 32 nd Annual Catalina Classic's stock paddleboard division with a time of 6 hours and 30 minutes.
"I really feel that paddle boarding has taught me all I have to know about the ocean and ocean currents," Watson
Traveling on the Indies Trader
While surfing competitively right out of high school, Watson joined a Quiksilver travel team - in which he, a few other professional surfers, a cinematographer and a photographer voyaged over seas to find new waves.
The photos and videos would be used in surfing magazines and videos, but the location would always remain a secret.
"It was just part of the surfing exploration," said Watson
, who said a trip would last for a few months.
"We'd come back and leave (the surf spots) up to the imagination of other surfers across the world."
Former professional surfer Evan Slater, who is currently an editor at Surfing Magazine , traveled with Watson on several occasions to Indonesia and the Philippines.
"No matter how bad the situation, Keoni
is able to make them good," Evan Slater said.
While representing Billabong
in areas such as Hawai'i, Guam and Tahiti
gets the chance to help the younger generations of surfers.
often assists with Rell Sunn's Menehune Surfing Event at Makaha, in which he
has watched now professional surfers - like Jason Shibata - develop in the sport.
experiences being exposed to the sun for long periods of time recently led him to co-create a sunscreen called Vertra.
and partner Bobby Higa - also Billabong's
regional marketing director for Hawai'i
- started an affordable but high-end cosmetic quality sunscreen two years ago which can last up to six hours in the water.
From traveling the world to taking on entrepreneurial endeavors, Watson
has become seasoned in all forms of the surfing lifestyle.
appreciation for Hawai'i
will continue to flourish as he
begins a new chapter of pure island living.