Save The Waves Announces 2018 Wave Saver of the Year Awards!

Santa Cruz, CA (May 17, 2018) As part of the annual Life Is A Wave event, Save The Waves Coalition is excited to announce this year’s Wave Saver awardees, presented by Peak Design.

Honoring an outstanding athlete, environmentalist and business for their unique and noteworthy contributions to protecting our waves and coastlines, this year’s winners are Cliff Kapono, Pro Surfer, Filmmaker and Scientist, ‘Aulani Wilhelm, Senior Vice President of Conservation International’s Center for Oceans, and Tom Stewart Co-founder of Sunski.

Athlete of the Year – Cliff Kapono

Born in Hawaii, Cliff Kapono splits his time among his many passions: professional surfing, science and research, and independent filmmaking. He is currently on a path to obtain a PhD in chemistry from the University of California San Diego, and has produced several publications related to the fields of molecular bioscience. He has also written, produced and directed a handful award-winning films (including several that screened at STWFF stops) which have included a wide variety of topics such as indigenous activism, ocean conservation, and global food health. His current venture, “The Surfer Biome Project”, explores and examines chemicals and bacteria commonly found on surfers in different parts of the world. Most recently he launched the “Pro-Test” with Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii to get sustainable surfboards under the feet of professionals and into the mainstream of the surf industry.

Environmentalist of the Year – ‘Aulani Wilhelm

As the Senior Vice President of Conservation International’s Center for Oceans, ‘Aulani Wilhelm has more than 20 years of experience in ocean conservation. She led the designation of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument and World Heritage site, the largest marine conservation area in the world and the first of its kind to recognize indigenous relationships to the sea. She is the founder of Island Water, a not for profit organization dedicated to providing clean water and reducing plastic pollution on islands, and Big Ocean, a global network of large-scale marine managed areas. In addition, ‘Aulani is crewmember of the Hokulea and the Polynesian Voyaging Society, and, as a Native Hawaiian, has a deep connection with the people, ecosystems, and traditions of the Pacific.

Business of the Year – Tom Stewart, Sunskis

Based in San Francisco, Sunski is an independent sunglasses brand who have undertaken the responsibility to make the world a better place – one shade at a time. As lifetime members of 1% for the Planet, Sunski has donated over $100K to environmental non-profits. In May 2018, Sunski launches its first ever collection of frames made entirely of recycled plastic. This material was developed entirely in-house, but still has all the same features as their original, iconic sunglasses. This exciting recycled technology will be complemented by other supply chain improvements over the coming years that further reduce Sunski’s environmental impact.

The Wave Savers will be honored at Save The Waves’ annual benefit in San Francisco, CA on June 21st.

Previous recipients of this award of include Greg Long, Mark Price, Bureo, Ramon Navarro, Sachi Cunningham, Dr. Wallace J. Nichols, Dr. Charles Lester, and Anna Cummins and Dr. Marcus Eriksen of 5 Gyres Institute.

In addition to recognizing our 2018 Wave Savers, the Life Is A Wave will feature a live and silent auction, with live music by Bay Area favorite, Sal’s Greenhouse. All funds raised directly support Save The Waves’ global environmental programs. 


Life Is A Wave is the marquee bay area event that welcomes and unifies the surf, environmental, and entrepreneurial communities in protecting our coasts for generations to come.

Save The Waves is a global nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving and protecting the coastal environment through a unique combination of protected areas, economics and direct action.

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