Legendary Hawaiian surfers recognized by Oceanside museum

Duke Kahanamoku (center) stands in front of the four charter members of his hand-selected surf team.
Duke Kahanamoku (center) stands in front of the four charter members of his hand-selected surf team. Left to right are Paul Strauch, Joey Cabell, Fred Hemmings and Butch Van Artsdalen.
(Photo courtesy California Surf Museum.)

The California Surf Museum honors people who made a lasting mark on the sport since 2009.


Four men who were selected by the father of modern surfing to “spread Aloha” around the world will be recognized for their contribution to the sport by the California Surf Museum.

The Oceanside-based museum has presented its Silver Surfer Award to ground-breaking surfers each year since 2009, and this year’s recognition will go to Joey Cabell, Fred Hemmings, Paul Strauch Jr. and the late Butch Van Artsdalen.

The four men were hand-selected to be on the first surfing team created in 1965 by Duke Kahanamoku, generally considered the father of modern surfing.

“Of the 20th century, he probably was the most significant figure in surfing that there was,” Surf Museum President Jim Kempton. “He was responsible for both reviving surfing in Hawaii, which had been virtually outlawed by missionaries and the queen, and taking it around the world and introducing surfing to Australia, New Zealand, the East Coast and California.”

Kahanamoku’s swimming skills earned him Olympic medals in 1912, 1920 and 1924, and Kempton said he probably should be recognized with a Silver Surfer Award at some point.

“He was also Hawaii’s ‘Ambassador of Aloha’ spreading its message of peace, unity, humility, and kindness around the world,” Kempton said. “In the latter part of his life, he decided to enlist a select group of four top surfers to join him in touring the world promoting surfing and the spirit of Aloha.”

In deference to Kahanamoku, Kempton said the museum is recognizing his charter team members, who all are in their 80s. Kempton made the announcement Wednesday at the museum before a screening of “Joey Cabell: Legend of Surf.” Cabell and Strauch were in attendance, and Kempton said all three living recipients will be at the museum’s Nov. 4 gala fundraiser at the Cape Rey Hilton Resort in Carlsbad.

Cabell lives in Hawaii and is co-founder of the Chart House restaurant chain. He captured numerous surfing titles, including the 1969 Duke Kahanamoku Invitational, and was named one of the 25 surfers who changed the sport by Surfer Magazine in 1985. He also has appeared in more than a dozen surf movies, including Bruce Brown’s classic “The Endless Summer.”

Hemmings also lives in Hawaii, where he is a political figure, event promoter and four-time winner of the Makaha International Surfing Championships. He was inducted into the International Surfing Hall of Fame in 1991 and, as a promoter, founded the Pipeline Masters and Hawaii’s Triple Crown of Surfing.

Hemmings has held various Hawaii state elected positions, including serving as a Republican member of the Hawaii Senate from 2001 to 2011. He also founded Papahanaumokuakea, the world’s largest marine sanctuary.

Strauch lives in Mission Viejo and is credited with being the creator of the nose-riding stance known as the “cheater five.” He won the juniors division of the 1959 Makaha International at 16 and served as president of the Hawaiian Surf Club based at San Onofre State Beach for 14 years. He also served on the San Onofre Foundation Board of Directors and was executive director of the Surfing Heritage and Cultural Foundation.

Van Artsdalen died in 1979 and was a varsity athlete in several sports at La Jolla High School before moving to Hawaii after graduation. He was a top-ranked surfer by 1964 and was the first lifeguard assigned to Pipeline in Hawaii and one of the first lifeguards on North Shore, where he is credited with saving many lives.