Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Meet Gino Bell from the Westside by Len Barrow

Gino Bell is a top longboarder and former US Championship finalist from the Nanakuli on the Westside of Oahu.  He is basically a full blooded Hawaiian whose ancestors have lived in the area for hundreds of years or more.  Gino is known for his uncanny ability to observe the waves and make the best of of any conditions from two to twenty feet.  He is a true waterman.

Gino Bell is also a great Hawaiian ambassador to the sport of surfing and I feel it an honor to write about him because it gives me a chance to diffuse the stereo-type of the Hawaiian surfer.  If you are not from Hawaii you may have a distorted picture of Hawaiians involved in Watersports.  This may come from various media sources including some surfing periodicals and movies.  The movie Blue Crush depicted Hawaiians as greedy, sexist and violent  surfers (If you don’t believe me watch the movie again).  The movie North shore did more of the same.  Various surfing magazines have always focused on the Hawaiians who were aggressive and violent as drama and colorful characters sell more magazines.  They don’t bother to tell you that these people are a tiny minority of the population.

Hawaiians who are great watermen- ambassadors like Duane Desoto (World Champ from the Westside) and Bonga Perkins (3x World Champ) get minimal press-time.  I was surprised to find that when Duane won his world title he got a little corner article in the sports section of our Honolulu newspaper.  The surfing magazines also barely mentioned it.  This is really unfortunate and this type of coverage does not convey the truth of the matter.

Zen has always had at its foundation the “effort” to uncover the truth behind perceptions. That’s why this interview with Gino is most relevant to this blog.  Gino is a real old school Hawaiian.  I first met him it at Nanakuli Tracks (a surf point) about 15 years ago.  I saw this Hawaiian guy just ripping it on his longboard and I must admit I was a little intimidated.  He was “talking story” with everyone and I noticed that he was making sure that everyone was getting waves (when was the last time that you have seen that, if ever?).  When a set came he generously yelled “Go bradda Go!” to me!   Gino then introduced himself to myself and we have been good friends ever since.

Gino Bell is humble, helpful and full of Aloha.  Most importantly, he is like most of the Hawaiians I know.  He is not the falsified “media version” Hawaiian.  If you are not from Hawaii and have never met a Hawaiian, I hope this interview will shed some light on who the Hawaiians are today.  Secondly pay close notice to what he says about paying attention to waves, sharing waves and Aloha.  I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

Until Next time!

Len Barrow  

We hope you enjoy the Zen Waterman video interview with Gino Bell:


  1. I'm so glad someone interviewed my brother! He is such a role model for a lot of people. His humble, caring, and calm personality have awarded him with so many friends. He always makes sure everyone is ok, he puts everyone needs first before his own. Surfing and fishing has been his passion and I'm so proud of him!

    I'm proud of you G!

    Love ya sis,



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