A name synonymous with style and grace, Gerry Lopez was born in Hawaii in 1948 and by the age of 14 was the Hawaiian Junior Champion. Growing up in “Town,” he soon became one of the rising stars on the North Shore of Oahu. Helping to usher in the “Shortboard Revolution” with other luminaries such as Dick Brewer and Reno Abillera. He quickly became known as Mr. Pipeline by the budding surf media of the time. In 1971, Lopez and Jack Shipley founded the iconic Lightning Bolt brand. In ’72 and ’73, Lopez won the Pipe Masters, cementing is legacy. Throughout the ‘70s and ‘80s he also spent substantial time in Indonesia, pioneering the hollow, idyllic breaks in Bali and at G-Land. In 1999, Lopez received the Waterman of the Year award by the Surf Industry Manufacturers Association (SIMA) in recognition of his efforts to stress the importance of the ocean and its environmental preservation. In 2001, he moved his family and business from Hawaii to Bend, Oregon, where he now continues to shape boards but also can be found snowboarding and water skiing in the Cascade Mountains and surrounding areas.
Shaun Tomson started, managed and sold two multi-million dollar clothing brands – Instinct in the 80’s and Solitude (co-founded with his wife Carla) in the 90’s. He is the author of the best-selling book “The Code: The Power of “I Will“, and the writer and producer of the award-winning documentary film Bustin’ Down the Door. Shaun is a Business Administration and Finance graduate from the University of Natal. He is a World Surfing Champion, an inductee in the Jewish and South African Sports Hall of Fame, the US Surfing Hall of Fame, and has been described as one of the greatest surfers of all time and one of the most influential surfers of the century (Surfer Magazine 1999). Shaun is a board member and ambassador for Surfrider Foundation, the world’s largest environmental group dedicated to protecting the world’s oceans, waves and beaches and he received the SIMA Environmentalist of the Year Award in 2002. Shaun currently lives with his wife and son in Santa Barbara, California and still finds time to chase the perfect wave.
In 1955, at the age of 5, the Rarick family moved from Seattle to Honolulu (Kaimuki) then settled in Niu Valley. At age of 10, Randy learned how to surf on Oahu’s south shore and fell in love with the sport after watching a surfing movie in 1962. Surfing was Randy’s passion and he learned every aspect of the sport, from competing, repairing and shaping boards, to passing out posters of surfing movies, collecting tickets at the door and even running the movie projector at the theater. After graduating from high school, surfing competitively allowed Randy to travel the world but would always make it a point to return home for the winter surf on Oahu’s north shore. Travelling allowed Randy to witness the emerging popularity of professional surfing. He also noticed how the events lacked cohesiveness. After returning to Hawaii in 1975, he approached Fred Hemmings, who was the main promoter of surf events, and convinced him to create a circuit to link the individual events in Hawaii together and create the first professional surfing circuit. The circuit involved 12 events around the world, including 3 in Hawaii, under the title name, International Professional Surfing (IPS). (Note: IPS was the forerunner to the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) tour). In 1983, the 3 events in Hawaii, Pipeline Masters, The Duke Classic and the Reef Hawaiian Pro were combined into the Triple Crown of Surfing. Randy organized the Triple Crown from its inception in 1983 until 2012 but continues to be intimately involved with one of the world’s most prestigious surfing contest.
A native of Encinitas California, Linda Benson started surfing when she was 11 years old. She learned to surf at Moonlight Beach, where she’d wait until her brother, or one of his friends would lose a board and then she’d paddle it back out to him. At 13 her father let her buy her own, a beat-up old board that cost $20. At 5’2″ and 105 pounds, Linda would prove a gutsy and talented athlete, dominating women’s competitive surfing for over 10 years. In 1959, at the age of 15, Linda became the youngest contestant ever to enter the International Championship at Makaha. She won. That same year she became the first woman to ride Waimea when she borrowed a board from the shortest guy surfing with her, paddled out and caught a couple of waves. Using the equipment of the early 50’s, not to mention a goofyfoot in a time when most spots surfed were rights, she still managed to hold her own and gain respect for her fearless big wave riding and her ability to charge.
Linda went on to win the first U.S. Championship at Huntington Beach, in 1959, and continued to hold her title in 1960, ’61, ’64 and ’68–setting the record for number of wins by a woman at that event. She tandem surfed with Don Hanson and Mike Doyle and was rated number one in a 1964 International Surfing magazine reader’s poll. Linda also successfully competed in tandem events with Hobie Alter. Winning over 20 first place surfing titles from 1959 to 1969, Linda still found time to act as Annette Funicello’s surfing double in the Beach Party films and as Deborah Walley’s Surfing double in Gidget Goes Hawaiian. Linda also received a lot of publicity by surfing in John Severson’s films.
Fred Hemmings, Board Member Emeritus, was born and raised in Hawaii and began surfing at the age of 8 at Waikiki. Four years later in 1958, Fred began competing in surfing events. That year he placed 3rd in the Makaha International Surfing Championships in the junior men’s division. Three years later he won that division (1961) and followed up with a first again in 1962. In the Senior Men’s division he took 1st Place twice (1964 and 1966). He continued to enter surfing contests taking him as far away as Peru, where he won the Peruvian International Championships in 1964. Four years later in 1968, he became the first surfer from Hawaii to win the World Surfing Championship, held that year at Rincon, Puerto Rico. Simultaneously with surfing, Hemmings was a champion canoe paddler. He was the steersman on four Molokai to Oahu championship teams in 1967, 1968, 1975, and the Masters in 1984. After winning the World Championships, Hemmings retired from competitive surfing to focus on creating a new sports industry: promoting and marketing surfing as a viable professional sport. He is the founder of the professional surfing circuit and the Triple Crown events and has been referred to as “the father of professional surfing.” He later served Hawaii as a State Senator from 2000 to 2010. Currently, Fred is a much sought after keynote speaker highlighting the history of Hawaii and the sport of surfing.
Greg Loehr was born in Brooklyn, New York, before eventually moving to Cocoa Beach, Florida. The hotbed of East Coast surfing in the ’60s, Loeher quickly showed a high level of talent in the water, so much so that the legendary Mike Tableling added him to the Weber surf team. Though well known as a standout in Hawaii and a top notch competitor, winning the 1979 Lacanu Pro in France, as well as his prolific shaping at Natural Art surfboards, his greatest influence has been his pioneering use and production of epoxy resin for surfboard manufacturing. Loehr was the East Coast Surfing Champion in 1974. He was inducted into the East Coast Surfing Hall of Fame in 2000 and the International Shapers Hall of Fame in 2016. As an advocate and activist, he brings passion to Surfing Heritage.
Betsy Gordon, Project Manager in the Executive Office of the National Museum of the American Indian, has been working in museums for over 35 years. Her diverse portfolio of projects includes exhibitions, publications, films, interactive websites, design competitions, grant writing, strategic planning, construction management, and public programs. As a skateboard historian, she is fascinated by the cultural intersections between surf and skate. A magna cum laude graduate of Wellesley College, Gordon curated the traveling exhibition Ramp It Up: Skateboard Culture in Native America, co-founded the public program Innoskate, acted as a content expert for the film Skateboard Nation, and is currently editing a book on the skateboard collection at the Smithsonian.
Carlos Amezcua is President and CEO of CarlosMedia Corporation, a full-service media and technology company. An award-winning veteran, he has spent the past 40 years covering major news stories around the world, most recently for FOX Television in Los Angeles. Carlos has been awarded 22 Emmys including one for ‘Outstanding Journalistic Enterprise’ and another for his coverage of Mexican politics. He also received awards from the Associated Press, The Radio Television News Association’s “Golden Mikes” and was part of the team that won the prestigious George Foster Peabody Award. For 17 years, Amezcua was also the co-anchor of the top-rated KTLA Morning News which changed morning television with innovation and personality. In 2006, The National Hispanic Media Coalition honored Amezcua with its National Impact Award for excellence in broadcast journalism. An avid songwriter, Amezcua received a Gold Record for writing lyrics on the rock band Chicago’s Christmas album. Amezcua is also an accomplished artist. His oil paintings have been showcased at many art galleries and shows in Southern California.