Fred Hemmings

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Fred Hemmings
Member of the Hawaii Senate
from the 25th district
In office
Personal details
Born (1946-01-09) January 9, 1946 (age 72)
Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S.
Political party Republican

Fred Hemmings (born January 9, 1946 in Honolulu, Hawaii) is an American former surfer and politician. A world-known surfer,[citation needed] Hemmings served as a Republican member of the Hawaii Senate from the 25th District from 2001 to 2011.[1] Elected in 2000, he served as Senate Minority Leader from 2002 to 2010. Previously he was a member of the Hawaii House of Representatives from 1984 through 1990. His retirement from the Senate left Sam Slom, a Honolulu attorney from the 8th District, as the only Republican in the 25-member body until 2016 when Slom was defeated by a Democrat.

During the 1960s, Hemmings won the Mākaha International Surfing Championships four times. He also won the Peruvian International Surfing Championships in 1964, and then from the surf of Rincon, Puerto Rico, the World Surfing Championship title in 1968. Hemmings was a steersman on four Molokai to Oahu Outrigger Canoe racing Champion teams, and to this day is a pioneer canoe surfing steersman. He attended Punahou School where he is an inductee of the Punahou School Athletic Hall of Fame.[2] In 1991, Hemmings was inducted into the International Surfing Hall of Fame, and in 1999 the Hawaii State Sports Hall of Fame.[3]

He was the Republican nominee for Governor of Hawaii in the 1990 election. He had lost the general election to incumbent Democratic governor John D. Waihee III.


Fred Hemmings, one of six children, was born on January 6, 1946 to Fred Sr. who was of English, Irish, French, Indian ancestry was originally from New York and came to Hawaii in 1922 and Lilian Frietas Hemmings, who was of Portuguese extraction, whose ancestors came to Hawaii to work on a sugarcane plantation in 1883.[4] In early childhood, Fred and three other siblings contracted polio though enduring no permanent debilitation.

As a student at Punahou School, Hemmings played competitive football where he was a league all-star player on Punahou's 1964 championship football team.[5]



Surfing at Makaha, 1966

Hemmings began surfing at the age of 8 at Waikiki. Four years later in 1958, Fred Hemmings began competing in surfing events. That year he placed 3rd in the Makaha International Surfing Championships in the junior men division. He placed first in the following years that he entered (1961, 1963, 1964 and 1966). He continued to enter surfing contests taking him as far as Peru, where he won the Peruvian International Championship. In 1968, Hemmings won the World Surfing Championship in Puerto Rico. After becoming the world's first true surfing champion from Hawaii,[6] Hemmings retired from competitive surfing to focus on creating a new sports industry; promoting and marketing surfing as a viable professional sport.

In 1969, Hemmings produced the Smirnoff World Pro-Am Surfing Championships which became the de facto professional world championships. Hemmings created the Pipeline Masters surf competition in 1971 which is now the longest standing surf contest in the world. Enthralling national audiences, the competition was aired on ABC's Wide World of Sports.[6]

Often, Hemmings found himself at odds with the surf culture, conflicting with the counterculture movement of the 1960s.[5] He consistently spoke out against substance abuse in surfing.

Hemmings was a strong advocate for women in professional surfing. In 1975 Hemmings founded the World Cup of Surfing championships with events for both men and women.[7] With dedicated persistence and corporate sponsorship backing the events, surfing competitions at legendary North Shore sites established a strong following and gained a national audience. All the major television networks took notice and broadcast the surfing events Hemmings produced nationally.[6]

Hemmings continued to pursue his dream to make professional surfing a reality. In 1976 Hemmings co-founded, along with Randy Rarick, the organization of International Professional Surfers (IPS).[5] IPS became the first professional surfing circuit, hosting 12 events around the world. Respecting Hawaii's legendary status in surfing, the tour was formatted so that at least three of the events were held in Hawaii.[6] This organization became the forerunner to the Association of Surfing Professionals tour.

In 1983, Hemmings combined the Pipeline Masters at the Banzai Pipeline in Oahu, the Duke Classic at Sunset Beach, and the Reef Hawaiian Pro at Haleiwa Ali'i Beach Park, into the Triple Crown of Surfing.[6] The Honolulu Advertiser heralded Fred Hemmings as the "father of professional surfing in Hawaii."[7]

In 2010, he was invited by the Puerto Rico Tourism Company to attend the Rip Curl Pro Search 2010, where he was honored for his 1968 championship.[8]


Simultaneously with surfing, Hemmings is also known as a champion canoe paddler. Hemmings was on the championship team in the Molokai to Oahu canoe races in 1967, 1968, 1975 and the Masters in 1984.

Boards and Commissions[edit]

  • Trustee, Hawaii Strategic Development Corp., Appointed by Governor Ige (2016-2020)
  • Commissioner, Hawaii Commemorative Quarter Advisory Commission, Appointed by Governor Lingle (2006–2007)
  • Commissioner, Governor's Economic Momentum Commission, Appointed by Governor Lingle (2005)
  • Member, Hawaii 2050 Sustainability Task Force (2005–2006)
  • Commissioner, Governor's Millennium Commission, Appointed by Governor Cayetano (2000)
  • Director, Children's Advocacy (1991)
  • Trustee, Outrigger Duke Kahanamoku Foundation (1990–1991)
  • Board of Directors, Denver Broncos - National Football League (1984–Present)
  • Founder and President, International Professional Surfing (1976–1983)
  • Honorary Lifetime Director, United States Surfing Federation (1987–Present)
  • Founder and Producer, Triple Crown Surfing (1983–1988)
  • Lifetime Director, Association of Surfing Professionals (1985–Present)
  • Board of Directors, Hui Nalu O`Hawaii (1976–1979)
  • Board of Directors, Boys Club of Honolulu (1976–1979)
  • Board of Directors, Outrigger Canoe Club (1972–1973, 1975–1976)

Awards and honors[edit]

  • Waterman Hall of Fame, Outrigger Duke Kahanamoku Foundation (2010)[9]
  • Surfing Walk of Fame, Huntington Beach, California (2009)[10]
  • Lincoln Legacy Award, Republican Party Hawaii (2006)
  • Legislator of the Year, Hawaii Medical Association (2005)
  • Waterman of the Year, Surf Industry and Manufacturer Association (2002)
  • Listed Top 50 Athletes of Hawaii for 20th Century, Sports Illustrated (2000)
  • Osmar Legend of Surfing Award, Brazil (2000)
  • Hawaii Sports Hall of Fame (1999)
  • Legends of Surfing Award (1997)
  • Punahou School Athletic Hall of Fame (1994)
  • International Surfing Hall of Fame (1991)
  • Service to the Sport of Surfing Award, Association of Surfing Professionals (1989)
  • Top Ranking Legislator, Small Business Hawaii (1985–1990, 2001–2005)
  • Winged "O" Sportsman Award, Outrigger Canoe Club (1969)
  • Top Ten Businessmen's Award, Honolulu Junior Chamber of Commerce (1969)
  • Duke Kahanamoku Sportsman Award (1969)
  • Goodwill Tours with Duke Kahanamoku, State of Hawaii (1966–1967)
  • Athlete of the Year, Honolulu Quarterback Club (1964)

Talent, Advertising and Promotional Credits[edit]

  • Co-Host, "Equal Time with Fred Hemmings", KHNR Radio 97.5 (2004–2006)
  • Radio Talk Show Host, KGU Radio (1991–1992)
  • Commentator, "Sports World", National Broadcasting Company (1979–1983)
  • Commentator, "Wide World of Sports", American Broadcasting Company (1970–1975, 1978)
  • Commentator, "Sports Spectacular", Columbia Broadcasting System (1976–1977)
  • Producer/host, "Hawaii Sports Scene", KITV (1972)
  • Consultant/test pilot—first artificial wave machine, "Big Surf", Clairol Incorporated (1969)
  • National Television Commercials—United Airlines (1966), Kellogg's Cereal (1967), Eastman Kodak Co. (Europe) French Commercial (1970)


  • Author, "The Soul of Surfing is Hawaiian"—Non-Fiction Best Seller, Hawaii (1997) ISBN 1-56025-205-7
  • Contributing Political Editor, Honolulu Magazine (1991–1992)
  • Co-Author, "Illustrated Surfing Encyclopedia", Japan (1979)
  • Author, "Surfing, Hawaii's Gift to the World" (1977)
  • Weekly Columnist, Honolulu Star-Bulletin (1966)


Fred Hemmings is stepfather to the successful writer of the book-turned-movie The Descendants, Kaui Hart Hemmings. When Kaui turned eleven she asked for her name to be changed from Johnston to that of the rest of her family, Hemmings.[11]


  1. ^
  2. ^ John Clark ’64 (2006). "Mark Cunningham '74: One of the World's Best". Punahou School Alumni Profile. Punahou has a wonderful surfing history, and many of its students and teachers are legends. When you look at the cast of characters from Punahou, it’s a real who’s who of the sport: former faculty members Peter Cole, Ricky Grigg and Fred Van Dyke; alumni Fred Hemmings ’65, Gerry Lopez ’66, Jeff Hakman ’67 and Don King ’78, to name a few. [permanent dead link]
  3. ^
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^ a b c Warshaw, Matt. The Encyclopedia of Surfing. New York: Harcourt Trade, 2003. 259.
  6. ^ a b c d e The Great Hawaii Sports Journal. Waipahu, HI: Island Heritage, 2003. 29, 34.
  7. ^ a b "Hawaii sports pioneers, past and present." Honolulu Advertiser 18 February 1986: 20.
  8. ^
  9. ^ "Waterman Award". Outrigger Duke Kahanamoku Foundation. August 24, 2010. Retrieved September 16, 2010. 
  10. ^ Connelly, Laylan (July 15, 2009). "Surfing Walk of Fame inductees announced". Beach Blog. The Orange County Register. Archived from the original on July 9, 2012. Retrieved July 15, 2009. 
  11. ^

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Nat Young
ISF World Surfing Champion (men's)
Succeeded by
Rolf Aurness