Following the Waterman’s Classic Golf Tournament on Friday, it was time for the main event of the 2012 SIMA Waterman’s Weekend, the 23rd annual Waterman’s Ball. The surf-industry’s annual gala event brought together nearly 680 of the sport’s top brass, celebrities, and surfers raising over $400,000 to support 20 environmental organizations and honor the late great Sean Collins with the Lifetime Achievement Award, Jean-Michel Cousteau, as Environmentalist of the Year, and last but not least, Shane Dorian, as this year’s Waterman of the Year.
We arrived on the scene early to help set up the displays of hundreds of donated items for the silent auction, ranging from wine and holidays, to one-of-a-kind surfboards and gear from industry brands, to amazing art and ads in top surf publications including TransWorld Biz.
Following cocktails, mixing, and heated bidding, especially on the boards (check the video for the line up) and original paintings, the crowd adjourned to the Ritz Carlton’s Ballroom for a live auction. Led by Kenny Caldwell, an auctioneer in the truest sense, who along with VonZipper Founder Greg “GT” Tomlinson, and free flowing wine, whipped the crowd into some heated bidding on the evening’s twelve items; including a trip to the Vans Triple Crown in Turtle Bay, an Audi Allroad, a dive trip to Tahiti with Jean-Michel Cousteau, and a commissioned portrait by Letty Nowak; that brought in over $282,000.
Take a video tour of the event and catch up with Billabong USA President and SIMA Environmental Fund Chairman Paul Naude on its importance and impact:
After the finance-raising fervor, it was time for the evening’s awards, that started with a special presentation to Paul Naude for his tireless work over the last 12 years leading the SIMA Environmental Fund, during which he has helped raise nearly $4.5 million to help ocean-focused environmental groups.
The year’s annual trio of awards began with a post-mortem honorarium of Sean Collins, who single handedly shaped the way we surf by bringing surf forecasting from guestimation and misty art to a true science, shaping Surfrider as one of the most influential forces in the sport. The award was presented by surf legend Mike Parsons, who quoted Evan Slater as saying that “Sean Collins is responsible for bringing more stoke to the world than anyone else over the last 25 years.”
On hand to accept the award were Sean’s boys, A.J. and Tyler, who delivered moving acceptance speeches, highlighting not just Sean’s accomplishments and gifts to surfing, but his life in general.
Reef Co-Founder and ISA President Fernando Aguerre took the stage next, possibly out-doing last year’s wardrobe, with a neon-green Liberian ensemble, extolling the virtues of this year’s Environmentalist of the Year, Jean-Michel Cousteau, son of legendary Jacques-Yves Cousteau, who earned the honor for his lifelong dedication to protecting the world’s seas and countless accomplishments including convincing former U.S. President George W. Bush to set aside 140,000 square miles in northwest Hawaii as the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument.
While Cousteau has spent his life under the waves, he sees combining forces with all ocean lovers as crucial to the oceans’ and world’s future. “It’s a matter of having a mission and I hope you become those that spread the word of how important it is to protect our life-support system,” said Cousteau.
The finale of the evening brought 11-time world champion Kelly Slater on the stage to present Shane Dorian with this year’s Waterman of the Year award, a much deserved honor for a man who holds the world record for the largest wave ever paddled into, a monster 57-footer at Jaws that garnered him two Billabong XXL awards for Monster Tube and Monster Paddle.