Industry News 3/23/2006

SIMA Honors McKnight, Johnson, and Kekai at Waterman's Weekend

SIMA Honors McKnight, Johnson, and Kekai at Waterman's Weekend

The Surf Industry Manufacturers Association (SIMA) will honor Quiksilver CEO Bob McKnight as Waterman of the Year, surfer and singer Jack Johnson and his wife, Kim, as Environmentalists of the Year, and legendary Waikiki Beach Boy Rabbit Kekai with the Lifetime Achievement Award as part of the association’s annual Waterman’s Weekend environmental fundraiser, August 4-5, 2006, at The St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort & Spa.
“The SIMA Board of Directors is proud to announce a line up of honorees that we believe resonates within the industry due to the amazing contributions and accomplishments in the world of surf,” said Dick Baker, president of SIMA and president of Op. “Bob, Jack, Kim, and Rabbit have all impacted surfing in powerful, yet unique, ways that have earned everyone’s respect and admiration.”

When Bob McKnight co-founded Quiksilver USA in 1976, the groundwork was laid for the prosperous surf industry we know today. McKnight’s leadership has undoubtedly impacted the industry’s athletes and businessmen alike. As CEO and chairman of Quiksilver Global, McKnight has spent his entire professional career at the helm of his company. The company he began with the vision of making innovative boardshorts for the hardcore surf market has now become a billion dollar company operating 18 brands worldwide under his leadership. McKnight has been surfing his whole life, is an avid diver and loves to snowboard. Every waking moment when he is not at the helm of Quiksilver he is surfing or on trips with his pals or his son, and he loves the beach and lives by the water.

“Many would agree that the industry would not be where it is today without Bob McKnight and his dedication to all things surf,” said Baker. “If the industry had a king, it would be McKnight. He is a deserving Waterman of the Year not only for his leadership and success in the business of surfing, but because he embodies everything a waterman stands for.”

Jack and Kim Johnson, perhaps best known for their talents in the surf and music scenes, are also a powerful duo in the world of environmental advocacy. The Johnson’s have been instrumental in the Campaign for Pupukea Paumalu to save the North Shore of Hawaii from development by Obayashi. They largely helped to organize and serve as honorary co-chairs for The Campaign for Pupukea Paumalu Benefit Luau that raised over $250,000. Jack was also “the face” of the effort, traveling to Japan to meet with and gift Obayashi officials. These meetings were very productive not only for the land trust issue, but for the Hawaii/Japan relationship in general, and the meeting was said to be a turning point in the negotiations to save the North Shore. Jack is also the founder and board member of the Kokua Hawaii Foundation, a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization that supports environmental education in the schools and communities of Hawaii. The Johnson’s play an active role in visiting these schools to share with children the importance of respecting and caring for the environment. In addition, "In Between Dreams," Jack’s 2005 release and his 2005 tour were the first release and tour from an artist to incorporate the 1% for the Planet logo and give 1% of the album and tour proceeds back to the environment. Jack also made some conscious changes to reduce the ecological footprint of his tour and the earth-friendly initiatives had positive impact.

“The Johnson’s embody the word ‘environmentalist,’” said Paul Naude, chairman of the SIMA Environmental Fund Board of Directors and CEO of Billabong USA. “It is evident they practice what they preach in their own lives when it comes to protecting the environment, from taking measures to respect and give back to the environment as a popular recording artist to stepping up to play a critical role in saving the North Shore this year. The surf industry highly respects the diligent environmental work done by both Jack and Kim and are proud to honor them as Environmentalists of the Year.”

If you make your way to the Triple Crown events each winter season on the North Shore, you know you can be sure of one thing: seeing Rabbit Kekai handing out singlets and trading stories with the pros as a Beach Marshall, a position he has held since the first Pipe Masters in 1971. From his days as a Waikiki Beach Boy with Duke Kahanamoku to being a pioneer of North Shore surfing in the 1930’s, Kekai is one of the industry’s best-loved figures. He, no doubt, has inspired and directly impacted the growth and development of surfing’s greatest athletes. Even today he helps shape the paths of future surfing greats, promoting kids surfing and education through a series of contests hosted by his Rabbit Kekai Foundation.

“Rabbit is a true surf legend,” said Baker. “He exemplifies the spirit of surfing, Hawaii and aloha. He has dedicated his heart and soul to surfing and we have gained so much from him because of it. It is our honor to recognize Rabbit with the Lifetime Achievement Award.”

The Waterman’s Weekend is a two-day fundraising event that benefits the SIMA Environmental Fund, a 501(c)(3) charitable foundation that awards grants to various environmental groups based on their dedication to preserving and protecting the world’s oceans, beaches and waves. Last year’s event attracted more than 850 people and raised a record $400,000 for ocean conservation groups.

The 2006 Waterman’s Weekend, which returns to The St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort & Spa, begins Friday, August 4 with the Waterman’s Classic Golf Tournament and culminates on Saturday, August 5 with the Waterman’s Ball and Auction.