Kalani David would be a very, very hard worker, if pushing a skateboard and paddling a surfboard were actually considered “working.” But they are not. They are considered playing. And Kalani David plays very, very hard. He is not content to only push a skateboard or only paddle a surfboard. He does them both. He does them both professionally. He does them both better than most and he is only 14 years old.
“Yeah,” he says, “I probably surf four to five hours every day and skate for three to four hours.” That means Kalani David spends seven to nine hours a day playing. And that’s 49 to 64 hours a week…playing. Those are harried, stressful, blue-chip CEO hours. Those are grey-hair-by-35 and dead-by-60 hours. His voice, at 14, is deep like a 40-year-old’s. It is gruff and growling.
He rides for RVCA and Converse, among others, and they support his incessant play. They are stoked for him to skate in the bowl contests at Coastal Carnage, X-Games, Dew Tour, Bondi Bowlarama and Pro-Tech Pool Party. They are stoked for him to surf in more contests than he can remember. And they are stoked for him to do it at the same exact time. This summer, for instance, Kalani surfed Huntington Beach’s NSSA Nationals in the morning, got on the 405 North to the 110 North to downtown Los Angeles and skated in the X-Games park event, got back on the 110 South to the 405 South and surfed again in the afternoon. So much stress. So much play!
But which play does he prefer? Does he enjoy the skate competition or the surf competition? “There is no question. I like competing in skate contests a lot more. It’s fair. The format is fair: You get three runs, so you can work on your flow and there is more time to do what you want. Surf contests depend on the waves and the judging is weird sometimes. The vibe between the two is totally different. In skating, everyone sticks together. Surfing is more individual. At skate contests people will help you on your runs and shit. They’ll say, ‘Do this’ or, ‘Do that.’ Which would never happen in a surf contest.”
And with all this play, all this very, very hard play, does he burn out? “Definitely. When I came back from Australia [and the Bondi Bowlarama], I didn’t feel like surfing at all. I didn’t surf for a week, but then something clicked in my head and I just wanted to go surf again. It goes back and forth like that.”
Just like he splits his time between the skate and the surf, he also splits his time between the California and the Hawaii. He lives in San Clemente for six months, during the summer, and then moves home to Oahu’s North Shore for six months during the winter. What a life! What an enviable life! And what a schizophrenic life, too. The differences between skate and surf are very great. The differences between California and Hawaii, even greater. Does he ever feel like a schizophrenic? “Not really. I just do both so much that when I step on a skateboard I feel it and when I paddle out I feel it. The two don’t really feel different.”
But what is the end game? Will he ever specialize in one or the other? “Shit. I just want to do both as long as I can.” —Chas Smith