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The surf industry turned out dressed in its finest Friday night for the Waterman’s Ball in Dana Point, Calif.
The 2010 Waterman’s Weekend, including the Waterman’s Golf Classic on Thursday, exceeded its fundraising goal of $400,000 to help ocean-related environmental groups.
Items auctioned on Friday night at the Ritz-Carlton to benefit the environmental organizations included a 2010 clean diesel Audi, bought for $40,000 by Johnny Schillereff, Founder and President of Element.
This year’s honorees included Environmentalist of the Year Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. Kennedy is the president of the Waterkeeper Alliance, a senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council and chief prosecuting attorney for the Hudson Riverkeeper.
Kennedy gave a fiery, almost political stump-like speech, lambasting greedy corporate interests and indifferent government regulators. He stressed that the common areas – the oceans, the rivers, the air, the beaches – are for everyone, not the just the rich and connected, and need to be protected.
Kelly Slater accepted Al Merrick’s Lifetime Achievement award on Merrick’s behalf. Slater’s eyes welled with tears as he described the role Merrick has played in his life. Merrick has been close to Slater since he was 14, and Merrick flew to Florida to be with Kelly as Slater’s father was passing away.
Merrick, founder of Channel Islands Surfboards, is a legendary shaper who has made boards for everyone from Shaun Tomson and Tom Curren to Kelly Slater and Rob Machado.
Three-time World Champion Tom Curren received the Waterman of the Year award. Curren is considered the leader of the surfing revolution of the 1980s and inspired many of today’s surfers.
Environmental groups benefiting from this year’s Waterman’s Weekend include: Alaska Wilderness League, Algalita Marine Research Foundation, Assateague Coastal Trust, Heal the Bay, Kahea, North Shore Community Land Trust, Ocean Defenders Alliance, Ocean Institute, Orange County Coastkeepers, Paso Pacifico, Reef Check, Santa Barbara Channelkeeper, Santa Monica Baykeeper, Save the Waves Coalition, Seymour Marine Discovery Center, Sinades-Natural Systems and Development Civil Association, Surfing Education Association, Surfrider Foundation, Wildcoast.