David Nuuhiwa was born in 1948 in Honolulu, the son of a Waikiki beachboy and martial arts instructor. He lost his mother when he was just four years old. His family history goes back to a Polynesian Island called "Nuuk'ihiwa" which was used on the "Survivor" television series.
David learned to surf at an early age, often sneaking out of his house and riding his bike to the beach, hiding it in the banyon trees so his father wouldn't suspect that he was enjoying the ocean. In 1961, David moved to California, first to some relatives in San Francisco, then shortly after to Southern California where his father had relocated. Before long David was living in Hermosa Beach hanging out with Donald Takayama and Dewey Weber. Dominating the junior division of the US Surfing Association with his uncanny knack for noseriding, Nuuhiwa won most of the contests he entered.
Most thought that Nuuhiwa would win the World Championships that took place in San Diego in 1966, but crippled by the stomach flu, he finished a dismal 12th place. This was the turning point for surfing as the shortboard era was launched. Nuuhiwa continued winning surf contests transitioning onto shorter and shorter boards, culminating in his taking 2nd place at the 1972 World Championships on a tiny fish.
David Nuuhiwa was an innovator of surfboard designs, helping to create the template used on most noseriders of the time. As he moved into the 70's, David adapted to twin fin fish and skated circles around the long lines taken in the past. True to form, Nuuhiwa created a crazy persona for himself after hanging with Jimi Hendrix during the filming of Rainbow Bridges. With his striking features and his tall lanky physique, Nuuhiwa wore flash clothes, drove head turning cars and generally was regarded as one of the best surfers of the time. He was inducted into the Surfing Hall of Fame in 1991 and lives in Orange County, California with his wife Jan.
Photo from Nuuhiwa archives