HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - When he was younger, Ben Aipa conquered waves, ruling the ocean with strength and finesse.
His wife, Lenore, remembers how he captivated onlookers even as an older surfer.
"People paddling out would sit up on their boards, turn their board around and watch him from behind," she said.
As a surfboard shaper, Aipa is a legend. His Swallow Tail and Sting designs radically changed the sport.
Aipa’s former business associate Richard King said when Aipa shaped a board it was magical.
"If he had his hands in making a board the folks when they rode them would come back and say they never felt anything like that," he said.
Aipa is now 77 and in poor health. He’s plagued by heart problems, diabetes, strokes and dementia. His weight is down to 150 pounds.
“Right now he is probably at Stage 4 dementia and by all intents and purposes a paraplegic,” Lenore Aipa said.
She is his caregiver. She said surfing is no longer the most important thing in their lives.
"When you have ongoing dementia it's a gradual slide down a hill," she said.
Lenore made the difficult decision to sell her husband’s personal collection of surfboards to help with their medical bills.
Auction house Caring Transitions is doing an online auction.
"Lenore wants to get them out there in folks hands that will actually use them," said King.
He owns Ala Moana Surfboards and is helping with the auction. Funds raised will go to the Aipas.
King believes some of the boards are worth thousands of dollars.
“There’s about 35, and they range in size anywhere from a 5-foot-11” up to an 11-foot-6," he said.
Lenore wants to provide Ben Aipa with hospice care in their Hilo home.
"He's been my husband and now he's my child," she said. "I take care of him as a mother will take care of her child."
The online auction closes on June 25. To see the items up for sale, click here.
A GoFundMe campaign has also been launched to help the Aipa’s. To contribute go to https://gf.me/u/x88t2y.