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12th Annual California Surf Museum Gala

A Truly Magical Evening!

The California Surf Museum’s 12th Annual Gala was held on October 26 at the Cape Rey Resort in Carlsbad. The venue, which overlooks the surf break Ponto and the Pacific Coast Highway, was loaded with emotional, heartfelt moments celebrating the 2019 Silver Surfer Honorees Don Hansen, Lisa Andersen, and Tom Curren.

A vivid sunset – with a green flash! – capped the perfect west coast evening, accented by live music provided by father/daughter team, Dave and Kylea Sheils. Artist Wade Koniakowsky worked his magic, putting the finishing touches on a painting that would be part of the live auction. The aloha-attired crowd gathered early for drinks and pupus and promptly filled the outdoor patio with handshakes, hugs, and warm reminiscences.

The Silent Auction had a steady stream of people perusing all the donated items and deciding just what to bid on. With our online bidding, everyone could enjoy the beautiful evening on the outdoor terrace and get alerts on their cell phones on how bidding was proceeding.

As the sunset faded, guests were encouraged to head to their respective tables in the main dining room, where CSM President Jim Kempton welcomed one and all who gathered to honor this year’s Silver Surfers. After a delicious dinner, it was time to get things started!

Before the award presentations, the combined talents of Chris Coté and Shea Roney provided just the right humor and energy to drive the live auction, which helps raise monies needed to sustain the museum. 

Lisa’s tribute board, her pro model from the mid-1990s shaped by Britt Merrick of Channel Islands Surfboards in Santa Barbara, was first up. Lisa shared her thoughts on the board – amazed she ever surfed that model – and revealed that the women surfers in attendance had autographed the bottom of the board. Lisa of course autographed the deck for Josh Hansen – the very happy winning bidder!

Don’s tribute board was next, shaped by Craig Hollingsworth of Hollingsworth Surfboards in Encinitas. Robert Parker, a long-time friend of Don’s, shared the story of how, as a young surfer in North Carolina, he asked Don if Hansen’s would sponsor him. Don told him to buy three boards, which he did, promptly selling two, and a life-long work relationship which became a friendship began. Robert flew out from North Carolina to be at the Gala. 

Josh Hansen pointed out that Don had autographed the board and noted that his signature has only appeared on a small number of boards. After a bit of back and forth bidding, Josh Hansen said Hansen’s would have a second board built. CSM is the beneficiary of course – and we have two happy winning bidders! Thank you to Eric Peterson, Mayor of Huntington Beach, and Tom and Bonnie Bistline, for their support.

Last was Tom’s tribute board, his pro model Black Beauty, also shaped by Britt Merrick. Sam George told the story about the thin black pin lines that grew into really wide black lines on the deck while the board was being finished. Tom didn’t like them at first, but that design went on to become his trademark. As the bidding increased, it became apparent that Lisa Andersen was going to win this board. She wanted this board. She said she even saved up so she could get this board. She has modeled her surfing style after Tom and was ecstatic when she was declared the winning bidder. Tom of course autographed the deck for her.

Now it was time for the Silver Surfer Award presentions. Three incredible plaques were hand-crafted for the occasion by Larry Balma, and custom engraved watches for each honoree were donated by Nixon.

Ocean Pacific founder Jim Jenks was on hand to introduce longtime friend and business partner Don Hansen. The audience rose in unison with a standing ovation as Don took the stage. His immediate family and extended family were near tears as he shared highlights from his sixty years in the surfing culture.

Four-time World Champion Lisa Andersen brought the crowd to its feet after Quiksilver founder Bob McKnight recognized her as the most significant female surf star of the 20th century. Lisa accepted politely, then promptly dedicated her award to all the women who came before her — many, like Jericho Poppler, Candy Woodward, Lisa Tomb, Debbie Beacham, Cori Schumacher, and Linda Benson, were in the audience and cheered her on. 

Sam George talked story about personal memories of the almost immortal career of Tom Curren – and it was a moment of sheer surf history. Tom as well received a spontaneous standing ovation from the packed audience. One of the most moving moments of the evening came when Jim Kempton introduced Waimea pioneer and consummate shaper Pat Curren to the audience. With Tom and his father standing center stage, the crowd was once again on their feet with a sustained ovation for two of surfing’s most revered heroes. It took the evening from a heartfelt journey to a height of cultural magic.

In addition to the many women surf stars in the room, notable guests included Taylor Knox, TV director Chris “XFiles” Carter, Mickey Muñoz, brothers Carl and Woody Ekstrom, Peter Townend, Bing Copeland, Brian Logan, L.J. Richards, Guy Motil, Bill Shrosbree, Jim Phillips, Ira Opper, Tom Gibbons, Bobby Zee, Mike McIntire, and Craig Hollingsworth. It was especially an honor to have Mayor Peter Weiss of Oceanside and Mayor Eric Peterson of Huntington Beach present.

Extraordinary thanks go to Gala organizer Louise Balma and her dedicated crew for spending countless hours making sure all goes well. CSM Board Members, staff, and a great number of volunteers did terrific behind-the-scenes work before and after the event. We could not hold the Gala without them!

The California Surf Museum thanks all those who donated to this year’s Silent Auction, Raise the Paddle, and Live Auction, as well as all our winning bidders!

Thanks to the great photos from Kevin Kinnear and Jerry Jaramillo to create this post event story.

Click here to view the pdf program from the 12th Annual California Surf Museum Gala.