“I was really upset as I managed to catch the biggest waves of my life on this board…..That’s why it meant so much to me.”Doug Falter
Falter had hoped a local fisherman might find the board, or that it might wash up in Kauai, which he’d heard was a possible landing spot for lost boards, but he never thought it would turn up in the Philippines.
“This is 5,200 miles away!” wrote Falter, explaining that the new owner had bought it from a local fisherman to learn how to surf, then contacted Hawaii-based board-shaper Lyle Carson on Facebook.
“As bummed as I was when I lost it, now I am happy to know my board fell into the hands of someone wanting to learn the sport.”Doug Falter
The board’s new guardian is Giovanne Branzuela, a primary school teacher in the southern Philippines, the Agence France-Presse (AFP) news agency reports.
Branzuela bought the board for $40 from a local fisherman, who had found it in August 2018, six months after it had escaped from Falter.
The board had turned from pale blue to a yellowish color during its voyage across the Pacific, but the name of Lyle Carson was still visible.
Branzuela contacted Carson, who alerted Falter to the miraculous find.
“It turned out it’s a surfboard from Hawaii. I couldn’t believe it myself……It’s been my dream to learn to surf and ride the big waves here…..For now I can use his surfboard. I told him I will take good care of it.”Giovanne Branzuela
Falter wrote on Facebook that he would have gone to visit Branzuela if it weren’t for coronavirus travel restrictions, but he is now raising money to send the aspiring surfer some gear and some reading material to help his students learn English.
The pair are in contact online and Falter told AFP he plans to visit when he can to retrieve his board and give Branzuela a beginner’s one to learn on.
“It was my first big wave surfboard custom shaped for myself. I surfed it on the biggest days I’ve ever surfed in my life,” AFP reported Falter as saying.
“It’s an excuse for me to go to the Philippines and visit and basically complete the story,” he said. “I think it would be a great ending to … teach him how to surf.”