Doug Falter, a photographer and surfer, was surprised after finding that the surfboard he lost in Hawaii more than two years ago was discovered in the Philippines.
In a Facebook post last month, Falter shared how his board drifted away from him when the leash unlatched from his ankle around 6 p.m. on Feb. 3, 2018, in Waimea Bay.
“I swam as hard as I could to try and get to it,” he wrote. “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.”
The Hawaii-based surfer hoped some fisherman might find his lost surfboard or for it to wash up somewhere in Kauai. Unfortunately, it never showed up.
A couple of weeks before his Facebook post, he heard that his surfboard was found in the Philippines and purchased by Giovanne Branzuela, a 38-year-old school teacher from the southern Philippines, according to AFP.
“This is 5,200 miles away,” Falter said. “Apparently he bought it from a fisherman to learn how to surf. 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.”
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LOST BOARD!!! – While surfing Waimea yesterday my leash came off and I couldn’t catch up to my board in time before it floated off into the channel and kept goin. If anyone sees or hears anything about a light blue @lylecarlsonsurfboards washed up on the beach or rocks please DM or call me at (614) 580-3100 – This was my only big wave board! 😭 If anyone feels like reposting or sharing on their story I would be forever grateful. I last saw it floating really close to the rocks on the left side of Waimea Bay just before dark at around 6:45pm. There is a good chance it could be washed up between Waimea and Haleiwa Harbor. It could definitely be around Alligators, Lanis, Hultons area as Ive heard or boards washing up around there before. Keeping my fingers 🤞🏽
The teacher bought the surfboard from a fisherman who found it in August 2018 for $40. Its color was different from how it looked two years ago, turning from blue to a yellowish color, but Lyle Carson’s name was still on it, CNN reported. Branzuela later reached out to the Hawaii-based board-shaper to inform Falter about his board.
“You could barely tell it was my board, but you could tell it was mine,” Falter said via Snowbrains. “It was kind of a real bummer when I lost it because that board meant so much to me. But now it means, even more, knowing that it might go in the hands of a guy that wants to learn how to surf.”
“It turned out it’s a surfboard from Hawaii. I couldn’t believe it myself,” Branzuela told AFP. “It’s been my dream to learn to surf and ride the big waves here.”
Branzuela added he will continue to use the surfboard and told the original owner he would take care of it.
“If it weren’t for travel restrictions I would have raised money to bring boards for learning and surf supplies and be on a plane to go and visit Giovanne,” Falter said. “I could teach him how to surf and hopefully a few of his 144 students.”
Falter told AFP he is in close contact with Branzeuela on Facebook and plans to go to the Philippines once the restrictions are lifted to retrieve his surfboard. He will also give a beginner-friendly surfboard to the man.
“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,” he said. “It’s an excuse for me to go to the Philippines and visit and basically complete the story. I think it would be a great ending to … teach him how to surf.”
The Hawaii-based photographer has also set up a GoFundMe to help raise money to buy supplies for Branzuela and his students and has since purchased some books for the children to read.
Images Courtesy of Doug Falter