Eduardo Arena, the founder of the International Surfing Association (ISA), has passed away aged 92, in Lima, Peru.
The ISA – originally named International Surfing Federation (ISF) between 1964 and 1973 – is the official governing body for the sport of surfing recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
Arena was responsible for running the ISF World Surfing Championships, an open, one-off event held every two years between 1964 to 1972.
The competition crowned the world’s first surfing champions – Midget Farrelly and Phyllis O’Donnell.
The Peruvian surfing pioneer has always believed that the sport and its values were a service to the world.
The current ISA president Fernando Aguerre made the announcement of his passing.
“It is a very sad day for surfing. Eduardo Arena was a good friend and surfing’ ‘dad.’ Our world would not be what it is if it weren’t for what he did decades ago,” expressed Aguerre.
The Legacy Lives On
Arena dedicated his time and resources to the sport like few.
“I met in 2007 in Lima, Peru, at a dinner organized by our mutual friend, the legendary Jose Chafi Schiaffino. During that dinner, Eduardo told me that he was sad that I had not reached out to him earlier,” revealed the ISA president.
“I apologized and told him that I sincerely did not know if he was around any longer. I told him that I was going to repair my mistake.”
Arena accepted the apologies, and the duo became friends for the rest of their lives.
Aguerre eventually lobbied for Eduardo receiving the SIMA’ “Lifetime Achievement Award” in 2008. He was also named “Lifetime Member” of the ISA, and the ISA World Masters Championship trophy received his name – Eduardo Arena Perpetual Team Trophy.
“I had a great time with Eduardo. He was a larger-than-life person. We talked a lot about the past and future of surfing and the relevance of Olympic surfing,” notes Aguerre.
“I saw him for the last time in Punta Rocas. We hugged for a long period, looked at each other, and said goodbye. He told me: “come back soon, I’m not getting younger,'” concludes Fernando Aguerre.
The legacy of Eduardo Arena will not be forgotten.
Instead, it will be highly celebrated when surfing rides its first Olympic waves in 2020 at Tsurigasaki Beach, Japan.