Rare Air

Jeff Hubbard ’93 builds a legendary resume in and out of the water

Jeff Hubbard ’93 doesn’t need the water to make a splash, although that’s where he prefers to be. Hubbard—a Kaua‘i native—is a three-time world champion bodyboarder and one of the most recognizable names in the sport. Not only does he have a resume as long as a perfect pipeline barrel, with more than 50 professional wins, but he also holds an MBA from Hawai‘i Pacific University and runs Hubboards, a bodyboarding equipment company founded with his brother, Dave. In 2018, he and fellow rider Chris Burkart launched Kaikeha, a nonprofit that fosters ocean reverence and shares the love of bodyboarding with future generations. We spoke with Hubbard about his journey in the sport and how HPA helped prepare him.

When did you fall in love with bodyboarding?
I was probably about 11 years old. Most of my friends in AYSO soccer or grade school were bodyboarding already, so luckily, I got caught up in the fun of it.

Who were some of your mentors and idols growing up?
Growing up on Kauaʻi, I was able to watch many young professionals—Chris Burkart, Harry Antipala, Kyle Maligro—from the same island make names for themselves in the bodyboarding world. Those young men helped encourage me, and I learned a lot from them.

At HPA I was lucky enough to bodyboard a lot with Ashley Colter ’93, one of my best friends. Keoki Lindsey ’90 was a senior when I was a freshman—an amazing student-athlete and he was super nice to me. He helped make it more fun and special for me to be a bodyboarder during my formative freshman year.

With your long resume in the sport, what has been the key to your success?
I have been very, very lucky throughout my career. However, hard work was definitely the key. I was never the smartest or best athlete, but I understood how that mix of work ethic, dedication, and self-reliance can give you a real competitive advantage. I learned this directly from my three years wrestling under Matt Hughes at HPA and my father, Mark Hubbard ’64.

I have been very, very lucky throughout my career. However, hard work was definitely the key. I was never the smartest or best athlete, but I understood how that mix of work ethic, dedication, and self-reliance can give you a real competitive advantage. I learned this directly from my three years wrestling under Matt Hughes at HPA and my father, Mark Hubbard.”

Jeff Hubbard '93

When and how did Hubboards enter the mix?
My brother, Dave, and I started Hubboards in January 2013, but I had been envisioning it for many years prior—mostly for college projects and mock business plans for my classes. Hubboards focuses on high-end equipment, and we sell our products around the world. We also use Hubboards as a platform to showcase how fun bodyboarding is and to help promote this wonderful sport.

It seems like your nonprofit shares that goal. What sparked the idea for Kaikeha?
Chris Burkart and I had the idea to start a community bodyboarding event on Kaua‘i focused on mentoring the keiki, but to really succeed, we realized that we needed to lay a solid foundation. By creating a 501c3 non-profit, we could establish a mission-driven event and secure funding in order to properly impact the youth. Plus, there are so many like-minded people out there, willing to help in any capacity. As a nonprofit, that collective group effort can produce amazing results with the opportunity to really grow and improve each and every year.

What do you hope Kaikeha will accomplish over the long term?
The happy faces of the kids and parents during these events are priceless and to see the direct results has been so validating. I hope we can continue to grow in order to provide the keiki even more opportunities that, in the words of our mission, foster a lifelong connection with the ocean and nurture a competitive athletic spirit.