FROM HAWAII TO THE PHILIPPINES
A surfer recovers his board after traveling 8,000 kilometers lost
Doug Falter lost his board two years ago in Hawaii and a teacher found it on a Philippine beach
When Doug Falter, an American surfer who loves big waves, fell off his board off the coast of Hawaii, he couldn’t imagine he would drift to the Philippines, more than 8,000 kilometers away. More than two years after seeing her disappear in the middle of the great waves of Waimea Bay, a very famous Hawaiian surfer hangout, Doug Falter has found her through social networks.
His board headed to the island of Sarangani, located south of the Philippine archipelago, more than 8,000 kilometers from Hawaii. Its new owner, Giovanne Branzuela, is a surf apprentice who teaches at a local elementary school. “When I saw her in the photo, I couldn’t believe it, I thought it was a joke,” the 35-year-old American surfer told France Presse in a conversation via Zoom.
A few months ago, Branzuela bought this board from a neighbor for 2,000 pesos (about 35 euros). She was found, damaged, by Filipino fishermen in August 2018, floating offshore, six months after her disappearance. The name of the Hawaiian table maker, Lyle Carlson, was still visible. Puzzled, the Filipino professor searched Facebook and sent the shaper (the maker of the table) a photo of his find. Carlson later shared the photo on Instagram, mentioning Doug Falter. “It was a surfboard from Hawaii. I couldn’t believe it,” explains Branzuela, 38.
The American surfer plans to travel to the small Philippine island to regain his property as soon as travel restriction measures related to the coronavirus pandemic are lifted. “This board meant a lot to me because of everything I got to do with it,” said Falter, who started surfing about 15 years ago in Florida, then settling in Hawaii.
With that board, Falter, a professional photographer, had participated in 2016, with waves of up to 20 meters, in the Eddie Aikau surfing competition, which takes place on Waimea Bay beach and is named after a myth of this discipline. Falter wants to show his appreciation to Branzuela by giving him a beginner’s surfboard in exchange for his own and spending time in the Philippines giving lessons in the sport. Meanwhile, he is raising money for Branzuela’s school. “This is a perfect excuse for me to go to the Philippines and close the circle of history,” said the American. “I think it would be a good ending to … teach him to surf.”