Senator Wakai heads to Surf Ranch to pitch Hawai'i to Olympic officials

Some of the world's best surfers are getting ready for their next tour event, and this one will be on man made waves about a hundred miles away from the nearest beach in California.

Surf's up in the middle of the desert, at Kelly Slater's Surf Ranch in Lemoore, California.

This is where some of Hawaii's top surfers will be competing, starting on Thursday in the World Surf League's Surf Ranch Pro Championship Tour event.

Senator Glenn Wakai will also be there. He sees this as an economic opportunity for Hawaii.

"There are two things coming up in the near future that are going to reposition surfing as a world wide sport and increase interest. One is the Tokyo Olympics. Surfing is going to be a first time Olympic sport in the 2020 games. And this coming weekend is the first professional surfing meet in the middle of a desert," said Senator Glenn Wakai, (D) Economic Development and Tourism Committee Chair.

Wakai said he's going to the Surf Ranch this weekend to try to talk to the U.S. Olympic Committee members.

"And just make a pitch for Hawaii to be that place for us being the locale for training for Hawaii's and America's, I should say, future Olympic surf team."

Wakai went on to say: "And to me what's sad and a lost opportunity is Hawaii doesn't own surfing. From an economic standpoint, Australia and California trump us. They have the global brands, like Quiksilver, Billabong, Volcom, Hurley. We need to help create a brand for Hawaii and position Hawaii to be the cultural sports center and also the economic center of surfing for the entire planet."

So what will it take? Wakai believes everyone in Hawaii's surfing community needs to come together and work towards that goal.

Plus he'd like to see the Hawaii Tourism Authority pump more money into promoting surfing.

And the man made waves can help take surfing into the future.

"Just the idea of being in the middle of the desert and having a surf meet. The world has changed and Hawaii needs to change as well," Wakai said.

By: Marissa Yamane

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