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A Lost Surfboard In Hawaii Washes Up in the Philippines

The lost surfboard has bridged a friendship between its old and new owners. 
ILLUSTRATOR WARREN ESPEJO
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A lost surfboard in Hawaii floated 8,500 kilometers across the Pacific Ocean and bridged a friendship between its original owner Doug Falter from Hawaii and its new owner Giovanne Branzeula from the Philippines. 

Falter was surfing in Hawaii in 2018 when a wave wiped him out and separated him from his surfboard. Although he tried to recover his precious board, the waves were too strong and swept it farther away.

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“I swam as hard as I could to try and get to it. I ran from one end of Waimea Bay across to the other side and scaled the rocks trying to get a visual until it was completely dark,” said Falter in his Instagram post. 

“I was really upset as I managed to catch the biggest waves of my life on this board.”

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- Feb 3rd 2018 I remember I counted seven good rides that session. After catching so many waves I finally wiped out on one and my @lylecarlsonsurfboards board floated away after the leash came off my ankle at around 6:00 pm. I swam as hard as I could to try and get to it. I ran from one end of Waimea Bay across to the other side and scaled the rocks trying to get a visual until it was completely dark. I was really upset as I managed to catch the biggest waves of my life on this board. Thats why it meant so much to me. My hope was that a fisherman might find it. I heard Kauai was a possible landing spot for lost boards like mine. Having never heard from anyone I figured it was lost at sea. Fast forward to a couple weeks ago. @lylecarlsonsurfboards posted about a man finding my board in the Philippines and contacting Lyle via Facebook. Mind you- This is 5,200 miles away! Apparently he bought it from a fisherman to learn how to surf. As bummed as I was when I lost it, now I am happy to know my board fell into the hands of someone wanting to learn the sport. I couldn’t imagine a better ending to this story than to see the sport of surfing begin in a place where nobody surfs. If it weren’t for travel restrictions I would have raised money to bring boards for learning and surf supplies and be on a plane to go and visit Giovanne. I could teach him how to surf and hopefully a few of his 144 students. He is in charge of a school on the islands where my board is and i’m sure some of the kids would love to learn. I guess this means for now the most I can do is raise money to send him a goodie package with wax, leashes, books and magazines for his students to learn english. I just priced out shipping for a box big enough for a couple surfboards and it was 600 USD to go almost all the way to where he is. So at the very least for now I want to send the necessities. We are at about 1,000 dollars. Every penny will go to this cause and Im so excited to put a package together! Thank you to everyone who has donated. It means so much! Link to donate in Bio???? Photo - @jdbaluch

A post shared by Doug Falter (@dougfalter) on

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But as fate would have it, the surfboard found its way to the Philippines two years later where it would be plucked out of the water by a fisherman. The fisherman then sold the surfboard to Branzeula, a grade school teacher in a school in Saranggani Province. 

The periwinkle surfboard, which has now a yellow-brown palette, has a logo of its maker, Lyle Carlson. Branzuela googled the name, and the search results brought him to the Instagram posts of Falter looking for his missing surfboard. When Branzuela contacted Falter, they were able to confirm that the surfboard is indeed the one Falter lost in 2018. 

When the two finally met through video call, Falter told Branzuela to keep the board and take care of it. During the call, Branzuela told Falter about his work and how he is working hard to provide school supplies to his students. 

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Upon hearing that, Falter set up a crowdfunding account and has raised more than $1,000 as of this writing. 

As bummed as I was when I lost it, now I am happy to know my board fell into the hands of someone wanting to learn the sport,” said Falter. 


I couldn’t imagine a better ending to this story than to see the sport of surfing begin in a place where nobody surfs,” he added.

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Mario Alvaro Limos
Features Editor, Esquire Philippines
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