Pathways featuring Zane Schweitzer
Join us as we dive into the world of Maui born waterman, Zane Schweitzer.
Filmmaker, Tao Farren-Hefer, takes a fly on the wall approach to unpack what has led Zane Schweitzer from his childhood on the water, to competition wins and a near death experience, up to his current life as an internationally recognized waterman, author, and environmentalist.
Connecting with the AK team at their home base in Cape Town, South Africa, Zane reflects on his personal challenges in relation to the serious struggles he has witnessed on his travels around the world. This introspection, the basis of his effort to become a positive influence on the people and environment around him.
— The Interview —
Your family has quite an epic history in the water sports industry, and really left their mark, as we recently saw from the Breaking Boundaries documentary. Where did it start for you?
I’m forever proud to be Hawaiian. My grandparents brought windsurfing to the world, and my dad was the first windsurfing World Champion, and 18 time World Champion. Some of my earliest memories were in-between my dad’s legs on the windsurfer, or on the front of my mom’s surfboard.
And your nickname, where did that come from?
InZane aka Zaniac came from when I was a young kid. I was pretty hard to tame (Laughs).
There is no denying the energy you harness, and it’s explosive on the water. We believe that same energy and general enthusiasm for life also lead you down some dark alleys, tell us about that?
When I was about 17 years old, I started to abuse alcohol and drugs. I started to get more excited about the afterparty than the competition. I distinctly remember driving through this town in Lobito’s, Peru, on tour and locking eyes with these kids not too much younger than me, but with barely any clothes on their backs, and not much life in their eyes. I was struck with this feeling of, “Why do I deserve all this?”
I then went on to win my first Junior World Championship title, and we were celebrating, and I fell off a cliff. It was about 30 feet, and I landed in a small patch of sand with rocks all around me. They said it took about 5 minutes to get down to me, and I was still lifeless. My brother started performing CPR, and I recall waking up surrounded by my brother and my friends, valuing my life. I now had a sense of purpose; with my personal endeavours I need to uplift the people and the environment around me.
That’s a life threatening, perspective shifting, moment for sure. You’ve been riding for the Sestar group for as long as I can remember, and have been riding AK hydrofoils and boards for a few years now. Two years ago you filmed Surf Foil Safari, and you were back at the end of 2021 to test and film with us again. What can you tell us about this last trip, and the motivation behind it?
Being able to work with expert craftsman, and designers, truly inspires me. We’re using and exploring alternative materials that have less of a footprint. I take so much pride in winning World Championship titles on EcoBoards. I’m really proud to have 16 World Championship wins. More than that, I’m proud to know that I can use that platform to inspire the next generation. When we create a relationship with the natural environment, it changes something in us, and it makes us want to truly be an ocean guardian.
Who is one of your greatest inspirations?
One of my greatest heroes is the Hawaiian waterman Duke Kahanamoku. One of the things he was most known for, was his Aloha spirit he carried on his travels. He introduced surfing to so many different places around the world. South Africans have that mecca, and that culture instilled in sport on the water.
Famous last words?
My grandmother, Carolyn, who is my greatest life coach would always remind me, “Zane, if you’re grateful, you’ll never have a reason to be unhappy.