Kalani Vierra and his daughter Ala share a passion for surfing, and are also tandem surfing partners in Kauai, Hawaii. At age 11, Ala expressed interest in giving her Dad's sport a try. Ala, a gymnast at Kauai Gymnastics Academy, took private lessons to work in the spotting belt. Beginning in October 2007, the two worked up from the spotting belt to unaided lift skills with the help of co-owner and head coach, Jack Leonard. Jack helped them to perfect each lift to include the complete move, using gymnastics knowledge to interpret sketchy tandem skill drawings. After many hours in the gym and in the ocean, the pair was ready for competition.
They have competed worldwide, earning many top finishes, resulting in the title of World Tandem Surfing Champions for Kalani and Ala, the youngest ever to hold this title! One might ask, gymnastics and surfing?
"After buying the only gymnastics school on a small island in the Hawaiian chain we wondered how the uniqueness of gymnastics could help the community," said Leonard. "The answer is--gymnastics is universal. We found ourselves helping a football player for fitness through plyometrics; a young female wrestler for joint strength; teaching kite surfers how to flip; and the challenges of tandem balancing while surfing and more. The knowledge of gymnastics has benefitted us so much more than just teaching kids how to be upside down. We continue to grow within this beautiful sport."