Stephanie Gilmore, 2014. WSL / Kelly Cestari
Jul 03, 2018

Surfing Walk of Fame

By Sawyer Franz

If you know anything about surfing, you know that it is a lifestyle so much more than a sport. The Surfing Walk of Fame has 6 categories which encapsulate the history of the culture of surfing from its humble beginnings to its massive championships. Founded in 1994 and dedicated to Duke Kahanamoku, these categories are Surf Pioneer, Surf Champion, Woman of the Year, Surf Culture, Local Hero, and Honor Roll.  

This year will mark the 25th anniversary of the Walk of Fame and 7 individuals will join their peers as a result of the legacies they have left on the sport. The following will be inducted into the Surfing Walk of Fame on Thursday, August 2nd. Make sure you don’t miss it.

WSL / Dan Merkel

Ben Aipa

Surf Pioneer- The individuals within this category achieved surfing greatness and respect prior to the years of major championships and have a criteria of having reached the age of fifty years old or are deceased.

Ben Aipa, the legendary Hawaiian surfer and shaper founded Aipa surfboards in 1970, invented the double-edged swallowtail and split tail designs and served as informal coach and trainer to top surfers Michael Ho, Sunny Garcia and Brad Gerlach. 

WSL / Ted Grambeau

Mick Fanning

Surfing Champion- All individuals in this category must have championship titles from a World Championship or World Class events specific to the City of Huntington Beach

Mick Fanning put the finishing touches on his remarkable Championship Tour career at the 2018 Rip Curl Pro 17 years after winning the event as a wildcard. In the process, he cemented his legacy as one of Australia’s greatest surfing heroes. He emerged from a deep pool of talent based out of Coolangatta, on Australia’s famed Gold Coast of Queensland. He was a top prospect there, and earned his 2001 wildcard entry into the Bells event as a star Rip Curl team rider. He qualified for the tour that same year and has spent the better part of two decades as one of the biggest gravitational forces on the Tour, racking up 22 Tour wins, 11 Top 5 finishes and three World Titles. In 2018, Fanning announced he’ll be retiring from full-time competition at the Bells to bookend his journey.

Photo courtesy of Transworld Surf

Randy Lewis

Local Hero- These individuals have either resided 10 years in the city of Huntington Beach or graduated from the Huntington Union School district and were finalists in championships in category Surfing Champions, contributed to Huntington Surfing Culture, were Surf Pioneers in the City, or were champions of the annual Huntington City Championships.

Lewis began surfing in 1961 and was considered a childhood phenomenon along the lines of one of his prodigies, Bud Llamas.  He started competing in the boys 14 and under division of local events and went on to place third in the 1967 U.S. Championships Junior Men’s.  Consistency was Randy’s hallmark when competing, performing well and usually placing among the top three.  He won the West Coast Championships in 1976 and 1977 and the San Onofre Surf Club titles in 1978 and 1979. From 1977 to 1987, Randy operated his own surf shop, the Randy Lewis Surf Center, on 5th Street.  Over the years he has worked for almost every HB surf store and currently shapes at Chuck Dent.  Among the big name surfers who rode Lewis boards—Llamas, Michael Ho, John Bruiser and Joey Hawkins. “Randy Lewis is one of the greatest shapers to come out of Huntington Beach,” said Surfers’ Hall of Fame founder Aaron Pai.  “When I was a kid growing up, we all looked up to Randy as a surfer and a shaper (still do!).  He surfed the Huntington Pier with style and grace and was one of the hottest surfers out in the water.

Photo courtesy of Orange County Register

Bob McKnight

Surf Culture- A crucial area, the individuals in this area are nominated from the arts and/or administration field and must have helped create a define surfing culture. Within this, there are categories of the lifestyle of surf such as Fashion, Art, Music, Equipment, Literature, Film, Administration, Photography, and Acting. Out of these area one person with the most votes is entered in the Walk of Fame each year.

McKnight is the creator of the fmailiar surf brand, Quicksilver. McKnight is one of the great influencers in surfing’s still-young history. He was a would-be filmmaker turned business guy who helped change the surf scene of the late 1970s. As he and the company grew, he led the way for an action-sports industry that today is worth billions of dollars and touches even the driest, most remote regions of the world. 

Photo courtesy of Morgan Maassen

Stephanie Gilmore

Woman of the Year- The women in this category have achieved the most votes from the categories of Surfing Champions, Surfing Culture, Surf Pioneers, or Local Heroes.

Stephanie Gilmore is on her way to becoming the most dominant women’s surfer in history. She won the first of her six World Titles during her 2007 rookie season, becoming the first surfer on the men’s and women’s side to accomplish such a feat. It would be her first of four-straight she’d collect during her rapid takeover of the sport. Her surfing has been compared to fellow Gold Coast style master Joel Parkinson because of its pure artistry. Her aggressive approach is grounded in genius precision and technical expertise that has set new performance benchmark for the women.

Getty Images

Fernando Aguerre

Honor Roll- The Honor Roll was created to honor those individuals who have contributed to surfing and its culture and are deserving of recognition, but might not qualify to receive a stone on the Walk of Fame. Honor Roll recipients are selected by the Surfing Walk of Fame Board of Directors.

Fernando has been the President of the International Surfing Association (ISA) since 1994 and is the primary driver of the Federation’s growth and development into a global organization recognized by the International Olympic Committee, with members in over 99 countries on five continents. Fernando and the ISA pushed for Duke Kahanamoku’s dream of the inclusion of surfing in the Olympic Games, which now will be present in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. 

Photo courtesy of Orange County Register

Steve VanDoran

Honor Roll- The Honor Roll was created to honor those individuals who have contributed to surfing and its culture and are deserving of recognition, but might not qualify to receive a stone on the Walk of Fame. Honor Roll recipients are selected by the Surfing Walk of Fame Board of Directors.

Steve Van Doren is one of the hardest working and most dedicated men in skateboarding, and the hardcore work ethic of the Van Doren family started in Boston and flourished in California with a vision of making quality, functional shoes. Since 1966, Vans has been the go-to shoe for skateboarders and, with the entourage of rippers they sponsor, Vans has created a skate family legacy with no end in sight. From innovative skateparks to the Vans Pool Party and Vans Park Series, Steve and his crew have proven time and again that they are leading the way to keeping skateboarding fun. Through the last five decades, Steve has had skateboarders’ backs and stayed true to his roots. His efforts have crossed over to surf, bmx, and virtually every sport across the world. 

Each one of these categories have legendary household names, below you can see the past inductees from 1994 to today. 

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