THE BEN AIPA LEGACY
Ben Aipa, son of Hawaii, raised in a poor Sugar Cane plantation family, would become one of the most legendary figures in surf history… Living proof that that humble beginnings cannot deter the greatness of destiny.
Now 77 years old, the master boardshaper that influenced todays top board builders, legendary surfer that inspired generations of power surfers, and coach to champion athletes such as Sunny Garcia, Brad Gerlach, Taylor Knox, the Irons Brothers, Bethany Hamilton, and countless others, has been fighting a battle with his deteriorating health for the past few years like the proud Hawaiian warrior he’s always been. He has overcome several near misses, but unfortunately his ailments have begun to gain ground and subdue his once powerful persona.
Although it is true he can no longer do the things he loves and struggles with simple day to day activities while grasping onto fleeting moments of clarity…through it all, he is still the titan of the Hawaiian waves and the unpretentious trailblazer of the shaping room whose legacy is forever woven into the kapa fabric of Hawaiian surf culture - BEN AIPA.
Wherever he traveled within the global surfing community, Ben needed no introduction. Recognized as the man that originated power surfing, Ben’s larger-than-life presence and singular mighty physical style commanded respect in any lineup he paddled out into. He was both the hammer and the Aloha. He was known throughout the years by descriptions fitting his massive personality and matching heart: the “Hokaido Bear” in Japan, the “Surfing Barrel” in Australia, even as having “Baryshnikovian grace in a football player's body.” The nickname he cherished the most though was “Uncle Ben” to generations of groms.
He has always been an unrelentingly hard worker, an uncomplaining provider for his family, and has never asked for help in his life from anyone, for anything. His huge heart and his stubborn pride refused to worry or burden his friends and family. A few days ago, a Hawaii News Now story covered Ben’s current condition in as gracious a manner as possible. In this public media release, photos were provided by an unnamed source (including pictures of Ben during a recent hospital stay) which revealed his vulnerable physical state. These photos were gut wrenching to see for those who love him, most of all his children, who were not warned of the intent to release these very private and heartrending images for the world to see.
In response, his son Duke said, "My dad would never want to be seen like that…he is a proud man and would not want to worry anyone.” Duke recalls what his father told him just before stepping his feet into the wet concrete of the ceremonial plaque honoring his induction to the Surfing Hall of Fame in 2018: "Duke, don't let them forget me." Duke goes on to say, “It is in that spirit, especially since our father is still with us, my brother (Akila), sister (Lokelani), and I humbly ask the surfing community around the world to please remember our Dad the way you each knew him. Tough but kind, slyly funny, and maybe even in his hothead younger days, whatever your fondest memories of him might be - continue to send all the Aloha you can from your heart to our Dad, Ben. Your friend, your mentor, your coach, an innovator of the Sport of Kings. After all, it is simply yet powerfully through your love and Aloha for our Dad that the Ben Aipa Legacy will live on.”
Duke, Akila, Lokelani Aipa
To help with medical bills and hospice care, Ben’s wife has coordinated an auction (ending June 25th) for some of Ben's personal quiver that can be found at:
For those who wish to contribute, we have had an overwhelming volume of requests to establish a Go Fund Me page designated for any donations to assist with Ben’s doctor bills and hospice care.
For any questions or if you want to share a story please contact [email redacted]
* 100% of the GoFundMe will go towards Ben Aipa's care (minus the standard GoFundMe fees)
- Shelby Choo
- Andrew Sakaguchi
- Stephen Wellman Hale Kaimu
Organizer and beneficiary
Ben Aipa Legacy
Huntington Beach, CA