A small hiccup in AXIS’ new Spitfire range launch plan meant that the brand’s Team Communications Manager Shannon Stent had to throw together an effective content creation plan within a very short amount of time, in the hope of hitting the launch schedule. Turns out they chose the right man for the job…

Words: Shannon Stent
Photos:  Shannon Stent & Dreu Beavis

After a year of hard work developing and testing our new range of surf wings, known as the Spitfire, we were really excited to unleash them on the public with an official release. However, just two weeks out we found ourselves in a jam when one of our key brand ambassadors moved on to explore opportunities elsewhere. We needed to re-think the entire Spitfire release, and the clock was ticking!

By this stage there were already a few leaked images and rumors circulating about the Spitfire wing, it felt like it already had a soft release which wasn’t ideal. The Spitfire was so revolutionary and highly anticipated, it deserved much more: we needed to throw the kitchen sink at this one. During a conference call with the big bosses at AXIS, I cheekily said that if they gave me three days in Hawaii with Edo Tanas, we’d be able to deliver something spectacular for the Spitfire. I was told to pack my bags.

You see, Edo is one of the new breed of high energy up and comers with an explosive riding style and infectious positive energy. I’d been communicating with Edo for the last year, helping him with his ambassadorship and content creation. After getting to know him, I knew he was the perfect candidate to help us showcase the Spitfire at its full potential, and his island backyard provided the most perfect backdrop. So, with the green light from the powers that be, and with the release slated for July 1st, we had a seven-day window to make this happen. We may just be able to pull this off…

“Stepping out of the Tacoma, I realized that we hadn’t even met the dudes in the back yet, they just jumped in at some point, that’s how they do it here.”

Things were starting to fall into place; flights – check! Edo – check! Hawaii – check! But there was something missing. Enter The Duke. With a fitting nickname for a Hawaiian strike mission, Luke Atkinson brings a completely different vibe and riding style, usually known for drawing stylish lines across long green runners back home near Byron Bay. Luke’s laidback flow is the perfect contrast and complement to Edo’s high energy toolkit. I was excited at the prospect of working with these two. And for good measure, I dragged my close mate from home Dreu Beavis along for the ride… it’s no coincidence that Dreu’s very capable on the glide machine and also very handy behind the camera.

There’s something special about escaping the Australian winter, especially for those living in the southern parts, and after 19 hours of transit we’d finally landed at Honolulu International, stepping outside and greeted by the humid Hawaiian breeze. Aloha. We were swiftly scooped up by Edo in his iconic Tacoma, board bags, camera cases and humans overflowing from the back tray. We’re now en route to our hotel in downtown Waikiki. After a quick check in and bag drop we were keen to wash off the 10hr flight from Sydney. We needed to get wet. No cameras today, just board shorts and foil boards. Edo offered the idea of a three-mile prone downwinder, the iconic Kaiko’os run, which follows the coast around the famous Diamond Head and into Waikiki. What a way to kick things off. So we loaded the truck, hit the coast, and collected a couple more downwind loyalists along the way. We had a full squad. When we arrived at the launch spot, we were greeted with perfect windy conditions and clear warm water… it’s crazy to think we were in an aeroplane just two hours prior. Stepping out of the Tacoma, I realized that we hadn’t even met the dudes in the back yet, they just jumped in at some point, that’s how they do it here. We exchanged pleasantries and Edo, Rich and Christian gave us the run down on the paddle out.

Three miles later and we had found ourselves at the end of the run, the finish line was a perfect little foil wave with a mellow crowd. This was my first chance to see Edo and Luke riding the new Spitfire wing in the flesh. It’s safe to say that the gap between foiling and surfing is getting narrower. We stayed out for hours sharing glides with the local foilers, it was finally a chance to put some faces to names, including the likes of Kahi Pacarro, Simeon Ke-Paloma, Kane de Wilde and Gabriella Bella. It just so happened that we had landed at the perfect time, with everyone reminding us that we’d lucked into the first decent swell of the season, and it was forecast to hang around. The Hawaiian foil community is so inclusive and welcoming, we couldn’t have asked for a better start to our trip.

Now by my calculations, we had three full days of shooting ahead of us, before I had to bunker down in the hotel room for the final day to prepare and deliver the Spitfire content across to the AXIS art department, ahead of the release date. Day two was the biggest day of the swell, so we were up bright and early as Kahi had invited us to share the lineup with him at one of his favorite spots. The lineup was uncrowded with a few long boarders sitting out wide waiting patiently for the bombs. We were happy with the leftovers on the inside that were hugging the reef and wrapping into the bay. The long, wally lefts were a blank canvas for the boys to get creative, Kahi was putting on a show pumping into some huge wide ones with Matt Leong’s drone in hot pursuit. After an hour we probably could have tapped out and wrapped up the trip, it was a clinic of progressive foil surfing from the best in the business… from this point on it was all about upgrades. We wrapped the session up and headed to town to refuel with poké bowls and iced coffee, then Edo treated us to a guided tour of some of Oahu’s best kept secrets.

The next day we were on it early again, as it’s now windy season in Hawaii and we wanted to try and bag some clean waves. The locals are all in downwind mode, waiting for the afternoon runs, and who could blame them? The setups are world class. We managed to get some fun sessions at some different spots as the swell started to ease, the ocean still providing a perfect foil playground. The boys were now well and truly dialed into their equipment, and the level of riding was truly inspiring. The FOMO was real and at this point I’m trying to convince myself that I’ve earned a break from the camera, so we wrapped up the afternoon with another Kaiko'os prone downwind run followed by a feed at one of Edo’s favorite local hangouts.

Day four saw the swell drop a little more, but not to worry, we had more than enough material already and it was still looking fun right out front. The summer crowds in Waikiki can be wild, and the people-watching is next level. Luckily we were close enough to be able to walk to the beach, so we opted for a mid-morning session with the million other people with the same idea, just for a laugh. We weren’t expecting too much considering the small swell and gnarly crowd, but we managed to have one of the funnest sessions, dodging learners on longboards, canoes loaded with tourists, catamarans and all manner of surf craft and inflatable toys. After a feed and an ice latte recharge, we got a message from Emma, one of the locals inviting us to ride with her and her crew on sunset at a spot up the coast that gets a little more swell. We’d been eyeing up a sunset session for a change in lighting conditions, so we were excited to mix it up a bit, and it was our final chance to bank some last minute shots.

A few energy drinks later and after what seemed like the world’s longest paddle out over super shallow reef, we found ourselves in a line up offering some of the most perfect foil waves you could ever hope for, Emma had come through with the goods! A fun little reforming left and right combo resembling more of a skatepark than a surf break. The energy drinks were doing their thing and the riding had gone up a level, Edo was wrapping his now trademark carves all the way through to the inside, then he’d pump back out and repeat over, and over, and over. Luke was bouncing from peak to peak, left to right, linking waves and sections all over the place. I have a distinct memory forever imprinted in my head of Luke flying through the air among a backdrop of high rise hotels, I was seeing things I didn’t know were possible. We surfed until dark, and made the huge paddle in, still pinching ourselves. We made it to shore just as the heavens opened to draw the curtain on one of the most memorable days of foil surfing I’ll ever see.

“I have a distinct memory forever imprinted in my head of Luke flying through the air among a backdrop of high rise hotels, I was seeing things I didn’t know were possible.”

The final day was upon us, we were all a little slow moving, we were surfed out, sunburnt, and the waves were almost flat, which was probably a good thing. I’d completed my late night editing frenzy and the Spitfire content was locked away. Job done. Coffee time. We’d spend the day on  another one of Edo’s tours, this time soaking in the sights of the North Shore and re-living the memories of the last few days. So much had happened in such a short time. Hawaii had been good to us, we met a bunch of new friends and created some life long memories. But it was time to go home, until next time. Mahalo.

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