Related: Carissa Moore ’10 Brings Olympic Glory Home to Hawai‘i

Punahou counts many notable surfers among its alumni – so much so that writer John Clark ’64 and historian Kyle Metcalf ’68, both surfers themselves, compiled an unofficial Punahou Surfing Hall of Fame. They assembled the list because surfing has never been an official Interscholastic League of Honolulu sport, and thus, surfers haven’t been among those recognized in Punahou’s Athletic Hall of Fame. “Kyle and I surf at the same spot in Waikīkī, and one day, we were talking about all the surfers coming out of Punahou,” Clark said. “We have a pretty good handle on the surfers in the post-World War II era, so we wrote them down.”

“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 Jr. ’65, Gerry Lopez ’66 and Jeff Hakman ’67, to name a few.”
– Mark Cunningham ’74 said in a 2006 Punahou Bulletin article

Vicky Heldreich ’59 Durand (right) and her mom were invited to Peru as mother-daughter surfing ambassadors, on the condition that Vicky capture the Mākaha International Surfing Championships.

Vicky Heldreich ’59 Durand

A 1957 Mākaha International surf champion, she recently published a book, “Wave Woman,” about her mother, Betty Pembroke Heldreich Winstedt, one of the world’s first woman surfers.

Several Punahou teachers – Fred Van Dyke, Peter Cole and Fred Johnson – joined them for idyllic weekends catching waves. “We would surf, camp or sleep on the beach and sit around bonfires,” Durand said. In 1957, she and her mom were invited to Peru as mother-daughter surfing ambassadors, on the condition that Vicky capture the Mākaha International Surfing Championships. “I was not as competitive as my mom,” she says, “but I won it because I wanted to go to Lima. Our job was to interest their women in surfing because no women surfed down there. We went to the club every day and surfed and made it look fun. They treated us like queens. It was an amazing time.”

Fred Hemmings Jr. ’65

A legendary big-wave surfer and 1968 World Surfing Champion, Hemmings founded The Pipe Masters and the Triple Crown of Surfing. He and Randy Rarick also started the first International Professional Surfers World Tour. Hemmings served six years in the Hawai‘i State House of Representatives, and served 10 years in State Senate.

Known as the “father of professional surfing,” Hemmings said he fell in love with surfing on a hollowed-out balsa wood board, which he says was like “trying to maneuver a battleship.” In 1958, at age 12, he entered the Mākaha International Surfing Championships – the world’s biggest surf contest at the time. He finished third in the junior division, and later won both junior and senior divisions multiple times. He went on to claim numerous surfing titles, and in 1968, he helped launch the first professional surfing circuit, now known as the World Surfing League.

Hemmings has high praise for the sport’s first and only gold medalist. “All of Hawai‘i can be proud that once again a surfer, in this case, Carissa Moore ’10, has brought us much honor,” he said. “I stand in awe of her. She’s one of my heroes.”

“Surfing’s appeal, especially to young people, is that it’s a sport without boundaries. In most sports you’re racing against the clock or you get three strikes and you’re out. Surfing really is the ultimate free spiritual sport. You surf the way you want to surf, and if it makes you happy, who cares what anybody else thinks.”
– Fred Hemmings Jr. ’65

Punahou Surfing Hall of Fame

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  • Brant Ackerman ’68

    A champion surfer, he represented both Outrigger Canoe Club and Hawai‘i in national and international surfing meets. In 1970, he surfed in the Smirnoff Pro-Am and the Duke Kahanamoku Invitational.
  • Jimmy Blears Jr. ’67

    The 1972 World Surfing Champion. He passed away in 2011.

  • Laura Blears ’69

    Laura Blears ’69

    Now known as Laura Lee Ching, she won the 1972 Mākaha International Surfing Championships and became the first woman to compete in the Smirnoff World Pro-Am Surfing Championships in 1973. She was the world’s top female surfer in 1973.

  • Kohl Christensen ’95

    Kohl Christensen ’95

    A big-wave surfer, he won the 1998 Quiksilver Ceremonial Punta de Lobos Big Wave Invitational, and surfed in the 2008 – 09 Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational and has been invited back every season since.

  • Peter Cole (faculty)

    The former Punahou math teacher and swim coach won the 1958 Mākaha International Surfing Championships and helped shape big-wave riding in the late ’50s and ’60s.

  • Alec Cooke ’74

    Known as “Ace Cool,” he was known as the “Evel Knievel” of the big-wave surf world. He became famous for riding 25- to 35-foot surf on the North Shore. He went missing while surfing on O‘ahu’s North Shore during a giant swell in October 2015.

  • Vicky Heldreich ’59 Durand

    Vicky Heldreich ’59 Durand

    A 1957 Mākaha International surf champion, she recently published a book, “Wave Woman,” about her mother, Betty Pembroke Heldreich Winstedt, one of the world’s first woman surfers. Durand spent her high school years surfing Mākaha alongside her mom, also an avid surfer.

  • Tim Guard ’58

    At age 12, his father arranged a surfing lesson for him with Duke Kahanamoku. In 1957, he won the prestigious Ma¯kaha Junior Amateur Surfing contest. He passed away in 2020.

  • Ricky Grigg (faculty)

    An oceanographer and a top-ranked, big-wave surfer in the 1960s. He could be seen at Waimea with Eddie Aikau, and he won the 1966 Duke Kahanamoku Invitational Surfing Championship. He died in 2014.

  • Jeff Hakman ’67

    Jeff Hakman ’67

    At 17, he won the Duke Kahanamoku Invitational Surfing Championship. Between the ages of 21 and 27, he won most major surfing titles in the world, and was the unofficial World Champion in 1974 and 1975.

    Jeff Hakman ’67 captured most major surfing titles during his prime.

  • Kahea Hart ’90

    He’s had a surfing career that spanned more than 25 years on the North Shore, competing in the Triple Crown and other local events. At age 39, he qualified for the Billabong Pipe Masters.

  • Fred Hemmings Jr. ’65

    Fred Hemmings Jr. ’65

    A legendary big-wave surfer and 1968 World Surfing Champion, Hemmings founded The Pipe Masters and the Triple Crown of Surfing. He and Randy Rarick also started the first International Professional Surfers World Tour. Hemmings served six years in the Hawai‘i State House of Representatives, and served 10 years in State Senate.

  • JJ Jones ’70

    JJ Jones ’70

    The 1972 and 1976 winner of the Duke Kahanamoku Invitational Surfing Championship.

    JJ Jones ’70 said he got the nickname “JJ” from his fifth grade teacher at Punahou, who wanted to distinguish him from the other James in the class – Jim Scott ’70, former president of the School.

  • Brock Little ’85

    Brock Little ’85

    Regarded as one of the most fearless surfers of his era, he finished second at The Eddie Aikau Big Wave event in 1990, amid harrowing conditions. He passed away of liver cancer in 2016.

  • Gerry Lopez ’66

    Gerry Lopez ’66

    Known as “Mr. Pipeline,” he was widely recognized as the best tube rider in the world. He became the Hawai‘i State surfing champion at age 14, and won the Pipeline Masters competition in 1972 and 1973.

  • Noa Mizuno ’17

    A young phenom, he’s steadily been gaining recognition as one of O‘ahu’s best up-and-coming surfers.

  • Carissa Moore ’10

    Carissa Moore ’10

    She became the first woman to win Olympic surfing gold in the sport’s debut this past July. She also captured the 2021 World Surf League world title, adding to her 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2019 victories.

  • Paul Strauch Jr. ’61

    Considered one of the most influential surfers in the 1960s. He won the 1965 World Surfing Championships in the “Small Board Division,” claimed the Hawai‘i State title in 1966 and the Ma¯kaha International in 1969.

  • Fred Van Dyke (faculty)

    Fred Van Dyke (faculty)

    Considered one of the legends of the surfing world, he taught seventh and eighth grade science at Punahou and was a pioneering big-wave surfer. He passed away in 2015.


Christensen ’95 catching a wave. Photo by Juan Luis Deheckerin.

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