Aging Well: iconic surf promoter Randy Rarick says stay stoked
NORTH SHORE, Hawaii - Say the name Randy Rarick, and many long time Hawaii residents or surfers will immediately know of him. This North Shore man was a central figure in the surfing industry for the last 40 years. Now in his retirement, he talks about why his passion for this sport keeps him Aging Well.
When this Niu Valley boy learned to surf at the age of ten - from the legendary surfer Rabbit Kekai, no less- he never dreamed it would become his life's pursuit. "I had no idea when I was young that I'd make surfing my career. It just happened," says Rarick, but he followed his passion and went with the flow.
Rarick surfed competitively, winning the Hawaii State Surfing Championship when he was 17. After graduation, he caught the travel bug, and surfed around the world. Eventually, he came back to Hawaii in 1975. In 1976, he co-founded International Professional Surfing (IPS), which was the predecessor to today’s World Surfing League (WSL), with another professional surfer (who would later become a local politician), Fred Hemmings.
In 1983, the two started what is now one of the world's most prestigious surf contest series, the Triple Crown of Surfing on Oahu's North Shore. It combined three events: the Pipeline Masters, the World Cup of Surfing and the Hawaiian Pro.
Rarick reflects, "I'm really proud in that I co-created the Triple Crown and for 33 years I was executive director of the event." Rarick was a very visible figure during the contest days, with radio updates and media interviews on how the competition was progressing.
Rarick and Hemmings also created the first professional surfing circuit, now called the World Surf League. "I saw pro surfing coming way back in the late 60s. And I said, 'This is going to grow into a big deal.' Now it's a $7 billion industry in America alone."
In 2016, Rarick retired from the Triple Crown due to health issues. Speaking publicly about it for the first time on KITV4, he says in 2009, he was diagnosed with orthostatic tremors. "I have a neurological issue similar to Parkinson's Disease. It's hard for me at times to be stable and stand still," he shares. If he stands too long, he will collapse.
While the tremors were mild at first, they worsened with time, making it hard for him to fulfill Triple Crown duties that required standing for long periods of time.
His health problems continued. In late 2018, Rarick reveals that he had a hip replacement followed by a mild heart attack. "They put two stents in and next week, I was out surfing again," he recalls, choosing to view his health problems as "blessings in disguise" because it made him value and appreciate his life even more.
Rarick is an optimist, and he says that's a major reason he's aging well. "I keep a positive attitude and do what I have to do to overcome it. I don't let it get me down."
Now, Rarick shapes and restores boards. Once again, he credits his love for surfing for helping him find a retirement hobby that can work with his health issues. "When I'm shaping, as long as I'm walking around and moving I'm OK," he explains.
Whether shaping, or surfing every day, Rarick's advice for a happy life is, "Stay stoked."