By Daniel Ikaika Ito
Governor Linda Lingle isn't an avid surfer, but yesterday, under the florescent lights at the State Capitol, she came up big for all waveriders by signing Executive Order 10-07, the Surfing Reserves bill, into law.
Once signed, the order establishes the Duke Kahanamoku Surfing Reserve (surf breaks from the Ala Wai canal to Waikiki War Memorial Natatorium) and the North Shore Reserve (waves from Ali'i Beach Park to Sunset Beach) on O'ahu. It essentially preserves these world-class waves as historic landmarks and "acknowledges the cultural, sports and historic significance of important surf sites in Hawai'i." Furthermore, Executive Order 10-07 allows the Department of Land and Natural Resources to receive donations to distinguish surf reserves with signs or markers.
"It's a great day for surfing," said Sen. Fred Hemmings (R, Kailua-Hawaii Kai) about the governor's executive order. "
Sen. Hemmings was a highly successful contest surfer in the 1960s, winning the Makaha International four different occasions and the world surfing championship in 1968 at Rincon, Puerto Rico. Further, he's also credited for creating the Triple Crown of Surfing and has been a Senator in Hawaii for a decade.
Retiring from politics this year, Senator Hemmings first introduced the bill as an attempt to preserve and honor the roll that the Waikiki and North Shore waves have played in shaping the fabric of Hawaii. The bill was shot down in the House of Representatives during the final hours of the legislative session, a move that many skeptics and pundits deemed to be rooted in partisan politics. Both Hemmings and Lingle are republican.
"When we began our administration we knew that being a republican governor and having a legislature that was majority democrat there would be a challenge to get a variety of things done," said Gov. Lingle of the challenges of passing laws like Senate Bill 2646. "This was a real labor of love for people on our side because it's such a good idea."
Sen. Hemmings based surfing reserves upon the National Surfing Reserves Australia program. Hemmings hopes this executive order will bring back recognition and prominence to Hawai'i in the international surf community. The only cost to taxpayers for the Governor's Executive Order 10-07 is the paper it's printed on and the pen used to sign it into law.
"This is an effort in the right direction for Hawaii to regain its prominence and leadership in surfing and that's why I appreciate what you've done here," said Sen. Hemmings to Gov. Lingle at the press conference. "Surfing is Hawai'i's gift to the world."