HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii is still called the surfing capital of the world, but some say that title has lost its luster.
“You look at California, you look at Australia, they’ve glorified surfing,” said state Sen. Glenn Wakai, chairman of the Senate’s Economic Development and Tourism committee.
“They celebrate surfing and they monetize surfing.”
He believes Hawaii must reclaim its role as the mecca of surfing, starting with building a surfing museum. “There’s a surf museum in Oceanside, Calif. There’s a surf museum in Australia. We’re the center of surfing, we don’t even have a surf museum.”
For help Wakai turned to the Hawaii Tourism Authority. HTA is deciding whether to establish a Surfing and Paddling Advisory Committee.
“You know, it’s up to us make sure that we continue to be the leaders in this sport, so that we can help to promote, preserve and perpetuate that,” HTA Chief Administrative Officer Keith Regan said.
The group would include stakeholders in the sport, including Malama Pono -- the organization that perpetuates the legacy of Duke Kahanamoku.
“The relationship between surfing and Hawaii, it’s so much more than the act of riding a wave. There’s so much more that’s involved with that,” Malama Pono’s Jon Bryan said.
A priority for the committee would be to organize surfing as a sport in all Hawaii’s high schools, like it is on Maui..
“There’s six states in America that have competitive high school surfing, Hawaii’s not one of them. That is embarrassing,” Wakai said.
The HTA committee would also tackle the climate’s future impact on Hawaii’s famed surf breaks, and how to streamline permitting for big surf contests.
“Let’s figure out who gets it, when they get it, and for how long they get their permits,” Wakai said.
He’s working to have Hawaii designated as the training site for Team USA’s Olympic surf team. If HTA gets on board the advisory committee could help with that effort.