“Anything is possible.” That’s what Cliff Kapono learned from Larry Bertlemann when Kapono was growing up on the Big Island of Hawaii, discovering his influences and laying the groundwork for his own approach in the water.
For Kapono, Bertlemann was style incarnate, but just as important as his approach to surfing was, the fact that he was a Hawaiian defining radical surfing at the time was of equal importance. While most surfers Kapono’s age looked to modern reference points like Kelly Slater and the Momentum Generation, Kapono found a deeper inspiration in the history of Hawaiian surfing, and in characters like Bertlemann, who showed him that there was truly no limit to what he could do in the water.
Kapono has applied Bertlemann’s “Anything is possible” philosophy to more than just surfing, seeking excellence not only in the lineup, but in higher education, which lead to Kapono attaining a PhD in chemistry from the University of California, San Diego, earlier this year.
Watch the video above to see Kapono discuss the inspiration he found in the lineage of Hawaiian style, and specifically the fire that Bertlemann’s surfing lit within him as a grom. This is the first installment of “Island Pride,” a series focusing on the unique styles, colorful characters and aloha spirit that have defined Hawaiian surfing and inspired generations of Hawaiian surfers.