Kauai Stories 2

Kauai Stories 2: Live to Surf, Surf to Live (excerpt)

Kauai Stories 2 on AmazonWith boundless exuberance and a slim, fit body that would be the envy of many 30-year-olds, Mark Sausen, 65, is a prime example of how surfing keeps a person ageless. Since moving to Kauai in 1970 after a friend told him, “Mark, the surf is unbelievable!” he has ridden waves almost daily, had near-death experiences in the ocean and even lost a close friend to drowning while surfing. But the sheer joy and exhilaration of flying across water on a surfboard always keeps him coming back for more. 

Mark loves to talk about anything and everything related to surfing. With his articulate, witty rapid-fire delivery, sound effects thrown in to illustrate his points, he still sounds like the young man he was when he first came to Kauai, a down-to-earth, happy guy who is thrilled to be able to live to surf.

Now a surfboard shaper, making custom surfboards under his Papa Sau label, Mark lives with his wife, Louise, a Hawaiian woman, who is also a hula teacher. They make their home in Haena on the North Shore of Kauai.


Live To Surf


When I first came to Kauai in 1970, surfing was my life. It was surf, surf, surf, live to surf. That’s all my friends and I wanted to do. I felt like, “This is where I’m going to stay. I can’t leave. I’m going to figure this out one way or another.”

First we had to get a place to live. There were no places to rent. If you saw a surfer who had a place, you would say, “That guy is lucky! How did he do that?” There were no jobs either, only one restaurant near the end of the road in Haena named The Anchorage. They only had two waiters and two busboys. That’s all they needed.

I found a cottage on the beach near the restaurant for $150 per month. I called my friend Pierre, who was living in California, and said, “Come on over. I got a place on the beach, $75 apiece.”

I got a car to drive. It was a 1953 Plymouth. I got it for $35 bucks. I was living out here in the country — there was nothing out here on the North Shore then. I was about 21 years old, driving with no license, no nothing.

Pierre and I went into the Anchorage to apply to be busboys because the two waiter jobs were taken already. We had kind of longer hair. The owner says to us, “I can’t hire you with long hair. If you cut your hair, I probably could do it.” 

So we went right across the fence to our cottage and had Pierre’s girlfriend cut our hair, like bowl cuts. We looked like the Beatles. We went back over to the restaurant. The owner saw us and said, “Oh my God! You’ll do that for a job? You’re hired!” We were stoked to have a job.   

Read more about surfing on Kauai in Kauai Stories 2


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