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BENEFITS O.C.

And a Maritime Was Had by All

May 13, 1997|KATHRYN BOLD

The event: The Surf Industry Manufacturers Assn.'s splashiest event of the year, the Waterman's Ball, which raises funds for ocean preservation. Saturday's dinner at the Red Lion Hotel in Costa Mesa drew a sea of local surf-industry bigwigs who sought to outdo each other in the "beach-formal wear" department.

Making a splash: With many surfwear designers and industry execs circulating among the more than 800 guests, it was hard to tell who won the prize for most creative attire.

Many guys favored vintage brocade dinner jackets or tuxes with tennis shoes, while women opted for Gidget-goes-glitz gowns and mermaid sheaths.

"It's so fun to see a different side of the surf industry," said Girl Star designer Holly Sharp, who whipped up a little white suit the day before the event to wear with a feather boa.

Day at the beach: Taking the Art of Beach Culture as their theme, party planners decked out the hotel in surf memorabilia, including photos and artworks inspired by the sun, sand and saltwater. Party-goers bid on one-of-a-kind collectible boards, from a replica of an ancient Hawaiian board to sleek modern "guns." Steel Pulse gave the evening a reggae beat.

Cheers: Actors Ted Danson and Mary Steenburgen, now co-starring in the TV show "Ink," showed up for dinner with Steenburgen's 13-year-old son Charlie McDowell, an avid surfer. "The Waterman's Ball is the must-go-to ball of the year at our house," said Danson, a longtime advocate of ocean preservation. "Mary's son is an excellent surfer. Plus, there's a lot of cool people here."

Surf stars: SIMA honored two surfers at the dinner. John Kelly of Hawaii received the first-ever SIMA Environmental Award. Kelly founded Save Our Surf and the Surfing Education Assn. to protect the coasts of Hawaii. Kelly, 78, still surfs: "It keeps the body and the memory alive," he said.

John Severson, founder of Surfer magazine and an early surf filmmaker, accepted the Waterman Achievement Award. "I hope to be remembered for providing some fun images," Severson said.

Bottom line: At $150-per-person, the eighth annual ball was expected to net $200,000 for four groups dedicated to ocean preservation: American Oceans Campaign in Santa Monica, a group founded by Danson that supports clean water protection legislation; Surfrider Foundation, a grass-roots organization in San Clemente dedicated to ecological conservation, research and education; the Orange County Marine Institute in Dana Point, and the Surfing Education Assn. in Hawaii.

Quote: "This event will help the Orange County Marine Institute sponsor local children who otherwise can't afford to go to the institute to make the trip down there to learn about the ocean," said Tom Knapp, chairman of SIMA's Environmental Fund, which organizes the ball.

Spotted in the crowd: Tom and Susan Crank; Doug Palladini; Rusty and Angie Preisendorfer; John and Dee Ann Gray; Bob Hurley; Randy Hild; Harry Helling; Cynthia Love; Bonnie Crail; Kelly Macrides; and Peter Townend.

What's ahead: The Orange County Marine Institute will form a consortium of five local schools to help bring in more students to learn about the ocean. Call (714) 496-2274.

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