China Uemura, longboard stalwart and one helluva rowdy local Japanese-American surfing pioneer, passes away at age 68.
What Happened to China Uemura?
According to the Instagram page for the China Uemura Surfing Foundation, China Uemura passed away on January 6 at 4:30 p.m.
The China Uemura Longboard Surfing Classic was run at Kuhio Beach for 33 years by China Uemura, a well-known and esteemed surf event organizer.
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China Uemura Cause of Death
In the Instagram post, Uemura’s family said in part,
“Over the last month, it’s really put into perspective how many people you impacted.” Uemura’s daughter-in-law said, “Roy ‘China’ Uemura passed away on Jan. 6, at 4:30 p.m. at the age of 68. He was surrounded by family and friends at his home in Wahiawa at the time of his passing.
On Nov. 29, dad fell and became paralyzed from the neck down. He underwent emergency neck/spine surgery. Soon after, multiple health issues arose keeping him in the hospital for the last five weeks.”
“Dad was best known for both his Annual Longboard Surfing Classic and Wahine Surfing Classic which ran for 34 years in Waikiki. On behalf of our family, we would like to say thank you to everyone who sent us their aloha and prayers during this time,” added Uemura’s daughter. China Uemura passed while surrounded by his family and friends.
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Who was China Uemura?
China Uemera, a legend of the longboard and stand-up paddling, is a generous and motivating instructor on the water. Uncle China has taught countless keiki how to navigate the sea and navigate life. He managed the China Uemura Longboard Surfing Classic at Kuhio Beach for 33 years. His competition really helped the neighborhood and donated more than $200,000 to regional charities.
Paddling sessions at the beach park
Roy “China” Uemura, a legendary longboard surfer, parks his blue van and sets up shop at Ala Moana Beach Park every morning. His “office,” which is more or less a second home for the semi-retired surfer known to most beachgoers as “Uncle China,” doesn’t have set business hours.
Uemura, 59, a father of two and a grandfather of three, has been lending boards to pupils of various skill levels for years as part of his free stand-up paddling sessions at the beach park. This is what motivates me, he said. “I enjoy meeting new people, and I do it for no charge because everything in Hawaii has a cost.”
Uemura said it’s his way of giving back because he has the skills and tools, including a particularly large board he developed for novices. With a few basic rules, he has taught stand-up paddling to people from the age of 5 to 90.
Relax first, he advises. It will be more challenging to maintain equilibrium the tenser you are. Another straightforward guideline is, “You tumble down if you look down.”
After a friend from Tropical Blends offered him a board and paddle approximately 10 years ago, the former professional longboarder made the switch to stand-up. Uemura initially dismissed it as a gimmick, but after giving it a try, he was captivated.
Surf contest Organiser
The Wahine Surfing Classic and the Longboard Surfing Classic, which will be held for the 19th and 31st times, respectively, are two more summertime events that Uemura organizes.
Hundreds of competitors from all over the world take part in both of the yearly surf competitions at Kuhio Beach in Waikiki. The American Diabetes Association and the Sex Abuse Treatment Center at Kapiolani Medical Center are two charity organizations in Hawaii that have benefited from the competition’s proceeds.
Uemura’s Health Issues
Uemura was honored for his work and entered the Hawai’i Waterman Hall of Fame the previous year. Some people might not be aware that Uemura underwent open heart surgery at the Queen’s Medical Center two years ago to have a valve replaced, even though he is still teaching today.
His chest has a scar that extends down the middle. He blacked out one day after teaching, which was a red flag that something was wrong. His aortic valve was not opening properly, according to the doctors.
Even at that point, Uemura expressed reluctance to have surgery, saying he preferred to “ride it out.” He was so committed that he wanted to hold off until the conclusion of his surf competitions. He was recommended to visit the doctor roughly two weeks after having a small heart attack during a tournament.
Uemura’s first question to the surgeon following surgery was, “How quickly can I leave this hospital?. According to the doctor’s response, “the more walking you can do following surgery, the better,” stated Uemura. “Within a half-hour of coming out, I was already walking.”
Commitment toward his teaching
After having to slow down and stop teaching for almost a year, Uemura is now back. About three times per week, he takes a walk around Magic Island today. His healing includes both teachings and being on the water. He has seen champions like Carissa Moore and Bethany Hamilton develop from amateurs to pros, which makes organizing the events satisfying.
Both, according to him, have improved as Hawaii’s representatives. The surfing competitions also aided Uemura, a Kaimuki High School alumnus who had previously dealt narcotics in his younger years, in turning his life around. Particularly after the births of his son and daughter, he wanted to be upfront.
He has maintained his Type 2 diabetes under control and lost weight thanks to stand-up paddling. Because of its positive effects on health, he suggests it to everyone, even elders. Uemura’s morning hangout buddy Byron Cuban said of him, “He has a large heart.” “We sit together, share stories, and laugh heartily. To see him, people travel from all over the world.”
The greatest joy for Uemura is watching people’s eyes light up as they master stand-up paddling. He is appreciative of getting another go at life. As long as God keeps me alive, he intends to continue surfing, instructing, and planning his charity surf events.