State Legislature honors 9 Hawaiian surfing legends


POSTED: Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The first order of business at the Legislature yesterday wasn't about Furlough Fridays or rail transit.

Instead, surfing made its way to the floor.

Nine native Hawaiian surfing icons were honored at the State Capitol by the Senate and House of Representatives. Buffalo Keaulana, Ben Aipa, Clyde Aikau, Mitchell Alapa and Derek and Michael Ho were in attendance and received certificates of appreciation.

All of the honorees are skilled wave riders and contributed to surfing through ocean safety, surfboard building, competition, coaching, entrepreneurship and perpetuating Hawaiian culture.

Sen. Brickwood Galuteria (D, Iwilei-Waikiki), and the Legislature's Native Hawaiian Caucus sponsored this inaugural event to honor the pioneers of wave slid0ing.

It was also a special moment for Sen. Fred Hemmings (R, Kailua-Hawaii Kai) who is a former world champion surfer and rode waves alongside the nine honorees.

“;Our honorees are all local Polynesians who have contributed greatly to the popularity of surfing,”; Galuteria said. “;It is only fitting that we honor current greats, as well as those who are no longer with us, who have paved the way for this sport worldwide.”;

Duke Kahanamoku, Rell Sunn and Eddie Aikau were recognized posthumously in the opening remarks of the presentations for their legacies of aloha and surfing. Then, the six living legends in attendance were individually introduced and acknowledged.

“;This event honored surfers that pioneered some things during an era that was not as easy to do as now,”; master surfboard builder Aipa said. The 68-year-old Honolulu resident was deeply moved by the presentation.

“;To be a part of the selection, I feel really honored, especially because this was the first one,”; said Aipa of the inaugural event.

During the presentation, Aipa looked up at his wife and broke down a little bit from the magnitude of the honor.

For a brief moment in a tumultuous time in politics, there was a light-hearted reverence in the Legislature brought on by the surf stoke of these Hawaiians.

When Galuteria introduced Ho, he did not mention that Ho won the 1993 Association of Surfing Professionals world championship, the first native Hawaiian to do so.