We first met now-nine-year-old Anderson Ellis Kainalu Gallagher, better known as Bobo, this spring after he finished paddling the OluKai Ho’olaule’a. Meeting a young SUP racer isn’t that unusual until you consider the conditions for the race: the surf was 10-12 foot Hawaiian, closing out Maliko Gulch on Maui’s north shore. Jaws was breaking. Experienced adult paddlers were pulling out of the race. But Bobo wanted to race and his father, Andrew Gallagher, agreed, as long as he was escorted. Zane Schweitzer, a mentor of Bobo’s stepped in and agreed to paddle alongside the youngster so he could take on the angry sea.

“(Bobo) showed a few signs of nerves out there, but for the most part he did very well,” Schweitzer said after they finished. “His performance was classic.”

What most people didn’t know was Bobo was already an experienced Maliko paddler. Since then, he was hand-selected for mentorship by the legendary Hawaiian waterman Archie Kalepa, who is teaching him lessons in stewardship, respect and indigenous culture. He’s also working with Maui innovator Dave Kalama and Maliko Run trainer Suzie Cooney. Will he be Maui’s next SUP phenomenon? Who knows. As long as he’s enjoying himself on the water and learning respect for people, the land and the water, good things will come. Judging from his smile in the video above from The Inertia, we’d say he’s on a good path.

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Bobo’s 2018 OluKai Ho’olaule’a Adventure.

Pictures from the historic 10th annual OluKai Ho’olaule’a.