Life support

1970s surf champion Reno Abellira on life support after stroke, friends say

Honolulu resident Reno Abellira, 71, a world-famous surfer who exploded onto the scene with the shortboard revolution in the mid-1960s, was hospitalized at Queen’s Medical Center last week, friends said.

The Star-Advertiser was able to confirm this morning with a representative for the Queen that Abellira was a patient in the hospital, but was unable to verify the details surrounding his hospitalization.

Darrick Doerner, a former city and county lifeguard of Honolulu, a North Shore resident and close friend of Abellira for 40 years, said he received a phone call last week informing him that Abellira had was found unconscious, “in a coma, with a serious life-threatening injury,” in Ala Moana Beach Park.

“He had been assaulted,” Doerner said. “Someone called 911, and he was rushed to Queen’s and remains in intensive care.”

Doerner said Abellira had long struggled with homelessness and, although friends tried to help him, was unable to get a driver’s license, social security card, debit card or other documents that would enable him to work or receive benefits, including food stamps.

“It’s very, very painful – people are very hurt to think that this happened to such an iconic, revolutionary and super intelligent intellectual master of style,” Doerner said, adding that he hoped the sad news would be a success. wake-up call for the community and political leaders to provide. support for the “hundreds of people living in our parks who are drug addicts and cannot get back into the system. “

According to Matt Warshaw’s 2003 book, “Encyclopedia of Surfing,” Abellira started surfing at age 4 in Waikiki, but didn’t have her first board until she was 11.

Abellira won the 1966 Hawaiian Noseriding Contest, the state’s first professional surfing event, and the junior division of Makaha International in 1966 and 1967, and later became the Hawaii junior division champion in 1968, making her international debut at the World Surfing Championships in Puerto Rico. that year too.

Abellira won the Hawaii State titles in 1970 and 1972, performed in the innovative expression sessions of 1970 and 1971, and “beat fellow Hawaiian Jeff Hakman by a fraction of a point” to win the Smirnoff. Pro 1974, “staged in a cataclysmic 30-foot surf at Waimea Bay,” Warshaw wrote.

Jill “Corky” Summers, a surf reporter, Kahuku resident and friend of Abellira, said in a phone call Monday morning that he was in good shape on August 25, when she interviewed him at Sunset. Beach for an upcoming surfboard shaper documentary. Dick Brewer.

“Reno looked in good shape; he was full of energy, joy and spirit, ”she said.

“Everyone loves Reno,” Summers added, and the Oahu surf community has been “devastated” to learn of Abellira’s plight.


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