Five-time Olympic medalist and Native Hawaiian Duke Paoa Kahanamoku shattered records and brought surfing to the world while overcoming a lifetime of personal challenges. Waterman explores his journey and legacy as a legendary swimmer, trailblazer, and the undisputed father of modern-day surfing, following the sport’s first-time inclusion in the 2020 (2021) Tokyo Games – a fitting tribute to his work promoting the sport around the globe.
This original documentary by Sidewinder Films (At the Heart of Gold: Inside the USA Gymnastics Scandal, Munich ’72 and Beyond) is directed by Isaac Halasima and features commentary from surfing’s biggest stars, including the first-ever Olympic gold medalist Carissa Moore, while also delving into his personal successes, struggles and humanitarianism through rare footage, contemporary visuals and incisive interviews.
From modest roots in Waikiki, Duke swam his way to fame, becoming the face of a changing Hawaii – and a vital part of its tourism industry – as it evolved from an independent Kingdom to the 50th American state. Yet relatively few outside Hawaii know the full extent of Duke’s impact on sports, lifesaving, and combating prejudice.
Through Duke’s incredible athletic accomplishments, personal doctrine of Aloha, and enduring gift of surfing to the world, the film explores a theme that still resonates today – the role of sports in breaking societal barriers – and celebrates his triumphs and philosophy of inclusion, challenging us all to embrace diversity and incorporate Aloha into our own lives.