by Corky Carroll
The big Vans U.S. Open of Surfing is coming back to Huntington Beach, Orange Counties famous “Surf City,” from July 27 through August 4th. Along with the surfing competition there are numerous other activities including Skateboarding, BMX bicycling, beach festivals and the annual inductions into the SURFERS HALL OF FAME. As a more than less Surfing Historian, of sorts, I like to focus on this aspect of the week each year and leave the blow by blow coverage of the surfing competition to others.
The SURFERS HALL OF FAME will be held on Friday, August 2nd at 9 AM at the Surfers Hall of Fame Plaza on the corner of Pacific Coast Highway and Main Street in Huntington Beach. This is directly in front of Huntington Surf ‘n Sport, which is owned by Huntington Beach local surfer Aaron Pai. It was Pai who came up with the idea and established the Surfers Hall of Fame back in the 1990’s. Since then many of the greatest names in surfing have had their hand and footprints embedded into the famous concrete squares laid into the hallowed ground under the shadow of the big statue of Duke Kahanamoku that watches over the plaza. Among them are the likes of Phil Edwards, Mike Doyle, Linda Benson, George Downing, Gerry Lopez, Shawn Tomson, Tom Curran, Tom Carroll, Margo Oberg, Joyce Hoffman, Mickey Munoz, Jericho Poplar, Wingnut Weaver, Frieda Zamba, Bob Hurley, David Nuuhiwa, Lisa Anderson, Kelly Slater, Andy Irons and many more. I am proud to have been inducted the first year, along with fellow Huntington Beach High School alumni Robert August.
This years inductees lead off with Janice Aragon, winner of the ISA World Surfing Games, the NSSA Nationals and current executive director of the NSSA. Next up is Sam Hawk, local standout and incredible North Shore power surfer during the 1970’s. And followed by the amazing Kai Lenny, probably the versatile and boundary pushing surfer of our generation
Today I am going to focus on Janice Aragon and will follow up on Sam and Kai in the next two weeks, leading up to the inductions on August 2nd. Janice began surfing at age 16 and didn’t win her first surfing event until the age of 29, a very late start in a sport such as surfing. But, since then she has been one of the most influential people both in and out of the water that the sport has seen over the past thirty years. She first became a judge for the NSSA in 1986 and was the first female to be hired to judge a Professional World Tour event the following year, the OP Pro. She became the Executive Director for the NSSA in 1989 and was instrumental in separating that organization from the old United States Surfing Federation in 1993, bringing about a more polished and organized competition format for Scholastic surfers all over the country. She calls Huntington Beach her home and is one of the real bright spots in United States surfing, her work having influenced thousands of young surfers over the years.
In the words of organizer Aaron Pai, “Janice Aragon has dedicated 30 years of her LIFE to being the Executive Director of the NSSA, is an ISA World Women's Surfing Champion and is greatly responsible for raising the level of competitive Surfing in our amazing USA!”
The induction ceremony is open to the public and is free of charge. It’s a great way to see these, and many other surfing celebrities, up close and personal, get photos and autographs and mingle with some of the greatest surfers in the world. Bring a hat and wear sunblock, the August sun is strong in Surf City. Afterwards you can walk out on the pier and catch some of the action in the surfing event, see what the top surfers in the world are doing at this minute. Great sort of past and present kinda day.