In the winter, legendary waves mark the season when surfers from around the world flock to the seven-mile strip of famous breaks. Makua Rothman, a 28-year-old professional big wave surfer, never had to go far, growing up on Sunset Beach and learning to ride North Shore’s huge swells alongside his dad and uncles. In 2002, Rothman set a big wave season record, riding a 66-foot monster off of Maui’s coast. More recently, he was crowned the 2015 Big Wave Tour World champion. In the midst of it all, Rothman has braved a new wave, paying tribute to his Hawai‘i roots with music, which, like surfing, has followed him all his life.
Rothman grew up watching his grandpa play the auto harp and “every fancy instrument there is” while his grandma strummed the ‘ukulele, upright base, and danced hula. “After you surf, you jam with friends at the beach, barbecue,” he says.
In 2012, on a surf trip to Indonesia, training coach Rob Garcia encouraged Rothman to pursue the music he had been tinkering around with. Since Garcia’s words hadn’t failed him in the water, he took those words to heart and recorded EP Makanale Road while in Bali. Since then, Rothman has toured Southern California with Donavon Frankenreiter and recorded with renowned local recording studio Mountain Apple Company. His full length album, Sound Wave, topped iTunes’ world music chart when it debuted—a sign that the 30-year-old has plenty of time to enjoy the rid.
“Surfing just taught me to be focused and really go for what I love, and if I’m passionate about it, do it,” he says. “Surfing ain’t going nowhere until I can’t walk, until I’m old and can’t really get on the board. But hopefully forever, at 90, I’ll get out there. Same for music, as long as I have a voice, I’m going.”
Makua Rothman takes the Blue Sky stage at 6:25 p.m. at the Greenroom Festival Hawai‘i, happening this weekend, May 31, 2015 from 3–9:30 p.m. at The Waikiki Shell. General admission tickets are $50. For tickets, click HERE.