Keith Honkala PDF Print E-mail
Written by Geno Yauchler   
Friday, 23 July 2010 09:17

Keith Honkala. Survivor.


Keith Honkala, one of the top riders in the world, was spotted in Switzerland riding on

Lake Zurich and Lake Lugano this week.  We took the opportunity to say hello, and ask

him a few questions.

(Aquaskipper superstar! Mad skilz, this guy.)

Geno: So, Keith, how long have you been riding?

Keith: Since 1997. I remember it was right around the time when princess Diana left us.

Many people don't know this, but that same weekend Mother Theresa passed as well.

Geno: Hmm, interesting. So what is that you are drinking?

Keith: Orange Juice. 

Geno: Is that anything like Grappa? It is a Swiss delicacy.

(Back Roll on Lake Zurich)

Keith: No.

Geno: OK, moving right along. So you have been riding for 13 years. What do you think

your most memorable moment is from being involved in this sport?


Keith: It would have to be something involving Mike.


Geno: Mike Murphy? The Legend?


Keith: Yea. The Legend. That's him. Probably one of the most memorable moments would

have to be my first trip here, at Peter's house with all the top guns in the sport at the time.


Geno: do tell.


Keith: There was Mike Murphy, John & Theresa Wilbourn, Damon Moore, Trevor

Sudwigs, Nino Iodice, Peter Schorno, and the rest of the Swiss bunch. Oh, the times we

had. One time, Mike was doing this thing with his Butt where he would say, "Da Da-Da Da

Da, Fart Fart." Then I countered with a triple, and Mike couldn't believe he was ousted as

the king.


Geno: that’s the highlight?


Keith: No, the most memorable.


Geno: Ahh. So I hear you come to Switzerland almost every year. That's got to be a ton of

fun. The mountains here are beautiful, and it is quite a bit warmer than people would

think in the summer.


Keith: Yep.


Geno: You are a man of many words.


Keith: Pretty Much.


Geno: So I hear you used to be a competitive rider at one time. What is your favorite trick

to perform?


Keith: Gainers are fun.


Geno: Yea, you take those pretty big. So your brother Scott is also quite a good foiler.


Keith: He was actually the one who got me involved in the sport. If it weren't for him, I

wouldn't be the foiler I am today.


(spin city)

Geno: How did he get started?


Keith: Actually, he saw the original Air Chair in the Overton’s magazine so he bought one

and taught himself how to ride. When he taught me, he had all the basics on how to get

up, but when it came to teaching me how to jump, he told me to act like I was rowing a

boat. He would do flips that way. "Push on your feet, and pull on the handle". Fortunately

Mike came by Scott's home about a month later up in New Hampshire and did a clinic. He

explained that rowing a boat was not the proper technique for performing a jump. After

that I just took off and was learning tricks left and right.


Geno: You seem to have a high affinity for Mike Murphy.


Keith: Yea. As a hydrofoiler for sure, but more so as a friend.


Sonya(Keith's wife): Mike actually came and stayed close by at Peters Florida home

while Keith was going through his cancer treatment. He took care of him and helped out

for 3 months during the tough times.


Keith: Mike is there when you really need him.


Sonya: Keith was Mike's best man at his wedding. He also taught me how to drive for the

around the boat trick on the foil. We practiced it about 30 times before he finally was

satisfied with my performance.


(half way up the trial)

Geno: wow. I knew Mike was a stand up guy, but I didn't know he had that kind of depth.

So you started out on the Air Chair. When did you make the switch to Sky Ski?


Keith: That weekend when Mike came and did the clinic.


Geno: Wait, back up, so you had Cancer?


Keith: Yea, very similar to Lance Armstrong’s issue. Testicular.


Geno: And the doctors are giving you the all clear?


Keith: Yea, for now it is in remission. It is one of you those things where you would never

want to go through it again, but I am kind of glad I did go through it.


Geno: Really?


Keith: Well it paints a whole different picture of what life is all about. Don't sweat the small

things. It puts things in perspective, and your real priorities will come to the front. When

you look at all the things in your life, you have to ask yourself, what is really important.

Nothing makes you do that like surviving Cancer.

(we climbed to the top of the trail on the North side of Lake Lugano. We wuz tired...)

Geno: So what do you think has changed the most since finishing treatment?


Keith: The most important thing is the small stuff doesn't bother me anymore. Like traffic,

money, being tired or sick, I am just glad to have the opportunity to live. A good day you

will realize is a day where you wake up, and have the whole day to live life, whatever that

may be for you.


Sonja: Yea, I guess when you have your health taken away, you really appreciate it when

it comes back.


Geno: So what keeps you busy now? What do you do for fun besides hydrofoiling?

(Me, Peter, and Kieth)

Keith: kite boarding is my new drug of choice. For the past couple of years I have really

been into it. It is a sport where I can do it all by myself - I don't have to get a boat driver.

Not to knock hydrofoiling, it is a great sport. But you know what I mean. It is nice when

you don't have a buddy or two buddies to go out with. I can just grab my kite stuff and go.

But when the wind is not blowing I still have a great time hydrofoiling. It is good to have

multiple hobbies.

Geno: Thanks for sharing your life with the hydrofoil community. It has been a learning

experience talking with you. We going to ride after the rain stops?


Keith: I am sure we will. Might be a while.


For more information about Keith Honkala, Google his name, and hit the I'm feeling lucky



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