Rabbit remembered as the warm-spirited elder of surfing
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 14 May, 2016 - Albert “Rabbit” Kekai passed away early Friday morning at Leahi Hospital on the island of Oahu. He was 95.
Rabbit was ushered into the sport in the 1920s under the tutelage of Duke Kahanamoku at Waikiki during the famed Beach Boy era. In the next two decades Rabbit was considered one of the most progressive surfers in the world.
"He was light-years ahead of anybody," Matt Kivlin said, as reported in the EOS, recalling the first time he saw Kekai surf in 1947. Kivlin also added that the forthcoming "Malibu" style of riding was based on Kekai's high-performance technique. Kekai is sometimes also credited as the surfer who invented noseriding.
He won international surfing events, most notably at Makaha, but also across the Pacific in Peru. He continued to compete throughout his later years in amateur competitions. He was a fixture on the North Shore each season during the Triple Crown, working as beach marshall and local personality.
Rabbit was known for his quick wit, funny quips and huge spirit of aloha.
“He took me under his wing in 1959 when I was 15 and showed me the lineup at Makaha,” remembers Linda Benson who later added on social media: “Thank you Rabbit for your friendship and wonderful memories through the years. Much love and Aloha to you and your family. Ride on my friend! A Hui Hou”
Rabbit Kekai was married and a great-grandfather. He remained an avid surfer until his death.