He Thought He'd Lost His Board Forever. Then, an Instagram Tag

Doug Falter's surfboard, lost in wipeout in Hawaii in 2018, turns up 5K miles away
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 21, 2020 1:26 PM CDT
He Thought He'd Lost His Board Forever. Then, an Instagram Tag
Doug Falter has his surfboard (not the one shown here) back.   (Getty Images/Solovyova)

Filipino Giovanne Branzuela was pretty stoked over the summer to buy a weathered-looking surfboard for $40 from a neighbor, who'd purchased it from local fishermen who'd found it floating off the island of Sarangani. They'd figured it had fallen from a yacht cruising in the area. Branzuela now knows where it actually came from: the waters of Hawaii, about 5,000 miles away, after a big-wave surfer's wipeout more than two years ago. That surfer, per AFP and CNN, is Doug Falter, who took a tumble in the waves of Waimea Bay, Oahu, in February 2018. Per a Facebook post last month, Falter explains that the leash keeping his custom-made Lyle Carlson surfboard tethered to him slipped off his ankle, and though he scrambled to retrieve it, his efforts were in vain.

"I was really upset, as I managed to catch the biggest waves of my life on this board," he wrote, noting he hoped it would be found locally. Instead, the board drifted west, where it was retrieved from the waters off Sarangani by the fishermen six months after Falter's wipeout. By the time Branzuela, a schoolteacher who wants to learn to surf, got his hands on the board a couple of months ago, its blue paint had faded, but the "Lyle Carlson" name could still be made out. Branzuela contacted Carlson online, and Carlson in turn posted a pic of the surfboard and tagged Falter on Instagram. Falter was thrilled to discover it had been found, and Branzuela is more than happy to return it once Falter is able to get to the island. Falter, who's been raising money for supplies for Branzuela's school, says he'll bring a smaller surfboard as a swap, as well as another surprise. "I think it would be a great ending to ... teach him how to surf." (More surfing stories.)

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