David Davis and Kim Stoner in conversation about Duke Kahanamoku and Surf Culture at Bookshop Santa Cruz

Pacific Wave Surf Shop and The Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History present David Davis, author of Waterman: The Life and Times of Duke Kahanamoku and Kim Stoner, Santa Cruz surf historian and curator of the Museum of Art & History, Princes of Surf exhibit, in conversation at Bookshop Santa Cruz

Bookshop Santa Cruz | 1520 Pacific Avenue
Santa Cruz, CA 95060

Special offer: Bring in a receipt from Pacific Wave Surf Shop and be entered into a raffle for a free copy of Waterman.

AND Bring a receipt from Bookshop Santa Cruz with Waterman on it on 10/15 and get a 10% Discount on any purchase from Pacific Wave!

Waterman is the first comprehensive biography of Duke Kahanamoku (1890–1968): swimmer, surfer, Olympic gold medalist, Hawaiian icon, waterman.

Long before Michael Phelps and Mark Spitz made their splashes in the pool, Kahanamoku emerged from the backwaters of Waikiki to become America’s first superstar Olympic swimmer. The original “human fish” set dozens of world records and topped the world rankings for more than a decade; his rivalry with Johnny Weissmuller transformed competitive swimming from an insignificant sideshow into a headliner event.

Kahanamoku used his Olympic renown to introduce the sport of “surf-riding,” an activity unknown beyond the Hawaiian Islands, to the world. Standing proudly on his traditional wooden longboard, he spread surfing from Australia to the Hollywood crowd in California to New Jersey. No American athlete has influenced two sports as profoundly as Kahanamoku did, and yet he remains an enigmatic and underappreciated figure: a dark-skinned Pacific Islander who encountered and overcame racism and ignorance long before the likes of Joe Louis, Jesse Owens, and Jackie Robinson.

Kahanamoku’s connection to his homeland was equally important. He was born when Hawaii was an independent kingdom; he served as the sheriff of Honolulu during Pearl Harbor and World War II and as a globetrotting “Ambassador of Aloha” afterward; he died not long after Hawaii attained statehood. As one sportswriter put it, Duke was “Babe Ruth and Jack Dempsey combined down here.”

In Waterman, award-winning journalist David Davis examines the remarkable life of Duke Kahanamoku, in and out of the water.