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New Board Shorts for Summer, Tested in Hawaii

To catch the perfect wave, you need the proper trunk.

At Koki Beach on Maui, Evan Valiere paddled out from the shallows on a pink foam-top surfboard. He reached the outer break, eyed a wave, paddled himself to its apex, let the wave grab him, stood and turned toward the right shoulder, heading south. This began a 30-second journey from the far north side of Koki’s crescent cove to its southernmost tip, during which Valiere pumped the board, joining sections of the wave until he finally dropped to his knees among the whitewash and paddled to shore. On sand, he grabbed the pink board, jogged back to a patchwork of beach towels and set it down.

“Just one! That’s all I need!” he shouted down the beach. A friend handed him a beer, and he stood, arms crossed, and looked back out to the surf. A few tanned, blonde local boys — eleven-year-olds, rising surf talent — were in the water, trying their best to imitate his work. Valiere is a professional surfer, and has the eternally tan look of proper wave aficionado. He was born in Hawaii and currently lives in Kauai. He runs Hanalei Surf School and exudes the casual demeanor of an instructor — he’s a good listener, but also a clear communicator. When the Triple Crown is in town, Valiere also competes.

His wave of choice is Pipeline, on Oahu’s North Shore. “If you think about what you’re trying to do on the wave, it’s a really simple thing, you’re doing one turn. But, the criticalness of the wave, and the danger involved with how shallow it is, and the reward for taking a steep drop on a really powerful wave is just an overwhelming feeling. There’s not really any other wave like that.” In 2011, he took 5th place at the Pipe Masters, behind household names like Kelly Slater and John John Florence. This past year was a more difficult one, and despite strong preparation, he was out in early rounds at all three events. “I felt really good. My boards were really good. I was surfing really well. But for some reason in my heat, it just — I couldn’t put it together. It was kind of a shocker.”

“The criticalness of the wave, and the danger involved with how shallow it is, and the reward for taking a steep drop on a really powerful wave is just an overwhelming feeling.”

Valiere traveled from Kauai to Maui to test out Lululemon’s newest “Water” line, a trio of shorts made for the amphibious life. Lululemon is working with Valiere on a board short for surfers, but as it’s still in a development phase, Valiere trialled the El Current Short ($88), a pair of trunks with surf-minded touches like a surf-comb (or cell phone) pocket, and water-repellent stretch fabric. The shorts aren’t pro-level trunks, but rather something to wear on a casual beach day — surfing one wave, drinking beer. In three days of surfing, hiking, yoga, cliff jumping, jet skiing and bike riding, the shorts were tested alongside the Thigh Tide ($78) and the more dry-ground-oriented T.H.E. Short ($78).

“Trunks need to be light, the right length, a comfortable fit on the waist, and dry quick. The more simple, the better,” Valiere said. “I don’t like trunks that are too light. The Lululemon ones have a medium thickness. Some of the top trunks from other brands are super, super light.” You don’t like to surf naked? I asked. “Well,” he said, then paused. “Everything gets profiled.”

Back in Koki, the cooler of beer lowered with the tide, and the crowd turned focus from the surf to a rock, 50 yards down the beach. With enough jockeying, plotting and peacocking, a “race-to-the-rock” idea percolated. Minutes later, the First Annual Hawaiian National Flipper Running Championships took place. Valiere represented Kauai, competing against Deje O’Connell, a local from Maui, and Sam Custin, a former pro who lives on Oahu’s North Shore. The watermen raced down the beach, bodyboards under arms and flippers splaying. After an early fall, Valiere caught the other Hawaiians and galloped to the finish line, victorious. He tossed the bodyboard into the surf and fell to the ground. “I needed that!” he shouted, pounding his fists into the sand, reveling in the victory. He laughed, shook his head, and said again, “I really, really needed that.”

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