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The Aguerre brothers on Liquid Nation and life after Reef

By Tiffany Montgomery
August 31, 2009 5:55 AM

With Liquid Nation Ball 6 fast approaching on Sept. 11, I thought it was time to touch base with Santiago and Fernando Aguerre, who founded the fundraising event that helps humanitarian charities.

I asked Reef co-founders Santiago and Fernando how Liquid Nation first started, why Fernando opens his own home for the party, and what projects and businesses they are working on in their life after Reef. Reef is now owned by VF Corp.

There are still a few tickets available for this year's star-studded party, which honors Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers as the 2009 SIMA Humanitarian of the Year. Tony Hawk and Surfers Healing's Izzy Paskowitz will be presenting Flea with his award.

Why did you start Liquid Nation?

Santiago AguerreSantiago: "The two main concepts of coming up with LN were to help raise funds for the newly formed SurfAid USA, a chapter of SAI International and its Mentawaii Malaria Control Program, and to bring into the surf industry the concept of humanitarianism as a viable, correct and necessary top-down part of our business.

"I thought that as environmentalism had come into our world in 20 years and had become part of our day-to-day approach and behavior, in the future the same would happen to the humanitarian side.

"Now times have proved the thought correct as more and more humanitarian programs are created and adopted by many surf company and retailers, and has filtrated our world all the way up to supporting the SIMA Humanitarian Fund and beyond.

Fernando: "Liquid Nation was an idea that Santi had to raise funds and awareness for SurfAid. At the time we were both brothers leading the surfing industry in supporting this very worth NGO. He's the one that came up with the original idea for the party. Kindly enough, he then told me that we both were ‘founders.' But the original idea is his."

Why did you decide to open Fernando's home to both the industry and strangers for the event?

Fernando: "Because I'm nuts. Seriously, because I believe that opening your home to such an event, is really walking the walk, and not just talking the talking the talk. It's a pain in the butt, but leaves the whole home and my soul full of good vibes. I also believe people do appreciate such a setting, in front of the great waves of La Jolla and the beautiful Pacific Ocean sunset.

How has Liquid Nation evolved?

Fernando AguerreFernando: "After two years of just the two of us running, we agreed that it was time to donate Liquid Nation to SIMA. When I told Dick (Baker) about it, we both agreed that LNB could be something wider, by benefiting several humanitarian surf based organizations. I wanted it to be like the SIMA Environmental Fund, but for humanitarian causes. We agreed. Since then, I took over the actual running and hosting of the event, first as VP of the SIMA Humanitarian Fund (Dick was the first president), and since his passing, as president of the fund.

"In our five short years we have netted over $1 million, 100 percent of which had been donated to the beneficiaries. It's a different platform from the Waterman's Ball: smaller, in a home setting, in front of the ocean, no sit down dinner, no long presentations. Last year I decided to create the SIMA Humanitarian of the year award. This year it's Flea, presented by Tony Hawk."

In addition to charitable causes, what are you two working on these days?

Santiago: "Surf Aid USA board. Surf Aid International Board, YPO San Diego Chapter, partner with Fernando in many surf related business in South America, running all the other business held by Liquid Tribe, real estate investment in surf related areas, counseling many small business to help people realize their dreams (as many did with us before), keep Fernando in the water with surf trips, flying a seaplane to discover breaks south of the border, father of four, very happily married with Cecilia (first Reef Girl) and just leaving life by the ocean."

Fernando: "I have work as president of the ISA since 1994, helping expand surfing to new nations around the world, lobbying for Olympic surfing, providing scholarships to children that are both good students and surfers (with funds from Quiksilver Foundation, Billabong and Reef Redemption).

"I also founded Surfrider Argentina, serve in the board of Save the Waves, I'm writing a book about the Latin way of mixing business and pleasure, and along with Santi, look after our post-Reef investments."

Would you ever start another brand?

Fernando: "Of course that is a nice ‘dreamy' fantasy, but in reality, I want to spend more time helping other people build a better world. I don't need to prove myself that I'm capable of being materially successful. I just want to be a kind person, with a good family, and give back, while surfing all the way until I die."

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