For the past several years, the Belmar Pro has had a certain Hawaiian presence. This year, with the event being ASP sanctioned, contest directors are expecting even more Islanders to be out on the East Coast looking for qualification points.
But the presence we’re talking about is more of Hawaiian royalty, in the form of surfing’s legends.
As many of you know, Reno Abellira and Buttons Kaluhiokalani made the journey in 2012 and had everyone on the beach going crazy in perfect two-to-three-foot offshore peelers. But much to the dismay of the entire surfing world, last year Buttons lost a battle with cancer. Buttons had some close friends in Monmouth County. In addition to the many memorials around the world, New Jersey held its own paddle out for Buttons in Belmar last November.
In his honor, iconic Mark Liddell and the great Larry Bertlemann (yes, of the Bert slide) have already committed to coming to New Jersey in September. Lidell is surfing the Belmar Pro Legends division and we may even see Bertlemann out there. And word is that Reno and Dane Keoloaha (ranked No. 2 in the world in 1980) are considering competing as well. It will not only be a chance to meet these amazing heroes of our sport, but to celebrate all the Hawaiian tradition and the life of Buttons.
Check out “Story 6,” by Doug Walker, with Liddell sharing his memories of Buttons.