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SOCIAL CLIMES

Dude, gnarly fund-raiser!

August 31, 2003|Ann Conway | Times Staff Writer

Concerned about oceans endangered by sewage and urban runoff, supporters of the SIMA Environmental Fund gathered at the St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort for the annual Waterman's Ball. Sponsored by the Surf Industry Manufacturer's Assn., the Aug. 23 event drew 800 guests and raised about $300,000 for environmental groups seeking to protect the world's oceans, beaches and waves.

"This event marks a coming together of the surf industry as a whole to show its support for ocean-related environmental causes," said fund chairman Paul Naude. "Surfing's very survival depends upon a healthy ocean environment. Without clean water and the preservation of surf breaks, we won't have an industry."

Cruising silent auction tables dotted with yellow and pink plumeria, guests bid on everything from surfer art to surfboards and sipped tropical coolers as they rubbed elbows with the evening's honorees: big-wave master Laird Hamilton, winner of the Waterman of the Year Award; conservationist Serge Dedina, Environmentalist of the Year; and twin brothers Bill and Bob Meistrell -- founders of Body Glove -- who won the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Sporting a vine and orchid lei, Dedina said he's dedicated his life to protecting "great surf spots." Helping preserve the Baco Rio Beach Break in Imperial Beach, near the Mexican border, is one of his proudest accomplishments. "We stopped developers from turning a giant estuary and national wildlife refuge into a marina and condo project." His love for the water is directly proportionate to the time he spends in it, he said. "If you're out there every day with dolphins and whales and surfing great waves, well, it fuels you."

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