Since it’s about the only industry event where surfers are expected to dress up, you see a whole spectrum of ensembles, from PT’s pink tie and tennis shoes to Tom Boyle’s tuxedo to the flamboyant Fernando Aguerre, draped in cloth fit only for an Arabian king. After the silent auction/social hour, attendees sat down to a dinner of filet mignon and halibut as the live auction kicked into full swing. The battle item of the night? A 10’0”, George Downing-shaped replica of his son, Keone Downing’s Waimea gun from the 1990 Eddie Aikau event. Fernando, Bob McKnight and Paul Naude, went head to head to head, but when it was settled, Fernando walked away with the stick for a cool, 25 grand. “They must have liked that one, eh?” said a shocked Downing.
When it came time to honor the night’s award recipients, the emotional thermostat was already on high before former SURFING editor Nick Carroll even took the stage to introduce Flame. He talked about the incredible man who’s lead the SURFING Magazine charge for more than three decades. The man who changed the face of surf photography with his single-minded pursuit of “The Shot,” and his relentless — some would say ruthless — method of getting it. Moore, who continues to battle a grade 4 glioblastoma brain tumor, clearly has plenty of fight left in him. “We’ll see you down at the beach,” he said. “But make sure you get there before first light. Otherwise, I’ll beat ya.”
The current world champ was equally as gracious, thanking first his brother, then his girlfriend, Lyndie, parents and Billabong’s Paul Naude and Graham Stapelberg. He then focused the glory back on Flame, saying how he and Moore had “so many secret sessions,” and later on, how he gave Andy his first cover. “Flame popped my cherry,” he said.
Flame poses with his new book “30 Years Of Flame”
Chris Evans, the former Orange County DA turned Surfrider Executive Director for five years, rounded out the group of reputable honorees, and humbly thanked George Downing and the Kellys in Hawaii for helping him protect spots like Maalaea. He then broke into a telling anecdote about his overcrowded local beach, concluding, “It may not be a secret spot, but it is certainly a sacred spot.”
So is every other place connected with the ocean. Which is why the Waterman’s Ball just keeps on rolling