Where’d you learn to standup paddle? I’ve been in the ocean my whole life. I learned how to standup paddle here on Maui when Laird (Hamilton), Dave Kalama and Loch (Eggers) were down at Ho’okipa with their huge standup boards and they let me go out at the point. I remember catching my first wave and being hooked. I was 9 or 10.
What kind of paddling are you doing the most these days? Either downwind or surfing on Maui. This past winter I did a lot of early morning SUP surfing before the wind picked up. I just started training downwind. Maui has the best downwinders. There’s nothing like the feeling of surfing the ocean for 10 miles, nothing like connecting the glides going from swell to swell.
Is there a generation gap in the standup scene there? Yeah, there’s a little gap in the racing here on Maui. It’s mostly women in their 30s. I don’t race against women my age. When it comes to SUP surfing, me, my sister and a good friend, who is like in her late 20s, go a lot. Most of my training is with my dad and his friends, which has been good because they push me to keep up. It’s pretty cool though: I see families paddling together on weekends.
So, you make bikinis? In the summer of 2007, my younger sister Tehani and I started sewing. We grew up at the beach. That requires lots of bikinis and they get expensive. We decided to start making them for ourselves. Our dad encouraged us to start selling them. By the beginning of 2008, Manini Gangini Bikinis was born.
And jewelry too? I started making jewelry at 12. My mom is an amazing artist and she would always try to get my sister and I to paint or do something creative, but we were never really interested. All we wanted to do was be outside running around, or playing in the ocean. Then my sister, Tehani, started playing around with jewelry and she inspired me to try it. Because I have so much energy, jewelry design is a quiet focus time for me. We sell pieces on Maui and call it Pashey Designz
And some of it appeared on the cover of the SI swimsuit issue? I was the youngest designer ever to be featured in the magazine. Bar Refaeli wore one of my cone shell necklaces. I got both the cover and centerfold.
So where does standup fit in for you? I want to get people on the water and see the thrill when they catch their first glide or see a turtle pop up in front of them. And I want girls to know it’s not just a man’s world for standup surfing or racing. We can rip.
Photographs by Jason Kenworthy
See Talia in the Indo Chronicles here.
This piece originally appeared in the Summer 2011 Issue of SUP magazine.