Tuesday, June 8, 2004

Surfing Hall of Fame
finds home on Kauai

It's taken 38 years, but the International Surfing Hall of Fame finally has a permanent home.

The International Surfing Hall of Fame and He'e Nalu Arts Museum opened Saturday in a 3,600-square-foot space at the Anchor Cove Shopping Center in Kalapaki, Kauai, making it the largest surf museum in the United States and the second largest in the world, behind Australia's Surfworld museum.

The hall was founded officially in Huntington Beach, Calif., in 1966 by Richard Graham, who also founded International Surfing Magazine, and surfing legend Hoppy Swartz.

Local legends such as Duke Kahanamoku, Rell Sunn and Fred Hemmings were inducted into the hall of fame, though no physical building actually existed. Now, nearly four decades later, the Kalapaki museum has obtained permission from the nonprofit Surfing Hall of Fame organization to license the name and create a space to commemorate surfing legends.

Museum owners Lee and Patricia Williams have spent the past two years preparing to establish the hall, an endeavor they felt was long overdue.

"Because there has been no actual building for the hall of fame, the list of inductees is not up to date," Patricia said. "We want to bring it current and add surfers to the list who deserve to be inducted."

They were unsure why the hall never had a physical home.

The museum has inducted 58 people, but none recently, though new surf legends like Kauai local Andy Irons deserve the status as much as the old-timers do, Patricia Williams said.

The Lees, both beach lovers and longtime surfers, decided to give up their lives in California to pursue their dream of giving surfing its due. They moved to Kauai two years ago and have been working on getting the museum up and running ever since.

The museum, which boasts hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of surfing memorabilia, including surfboards, vintage surf patches and stickers, artwork and original work by surf photographer Denjiro Sato, is expected to draw up to 250,000 visitors per year.


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