Tom Curren: well deserved waterman award

The Surf Industry Manufacturers Association (SIMA) will honor surfing legend Tom Curren as Waterman of the Year, environmental leader Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. as Environmentalist of the Year, and iconic surfboard shaper Al Merrick with the 2010 Lifetime Achievement Award, as part of the association’s annual Waterman’s Weekend environmental fundraiser.

The 2010 Waterman’s Weekend will be held July 8-9 and will raise funds for 19 ocean conservation organizations. The weekend begins Thursday, July 8, with the Waterman’s Classic Golf Tournament at the Monarch Beach Golf Links, and culminates on Friday, July 9, with the 21st annual Waterman’s Ball and auction to be held at The Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel, Calif.

“The SIMA Board of Directors and Environmental Fund are humbled by the honorees selected for Waterman’s Weekend 2010,” said Paul Naude, Chairman of the Waterman’s Weekend Event Committee and President of the SIMA Environmental Fund Board of Directors. “On behalf of the surf industry, SIMA is proud to honor a duo like no other, Tom Curren and Al Merrick, for their unique and powerful influence on the sport and industry of surfing. We are also incredibly thrilled to celebrate Robert F. Kennedy’s commitment to protecting and preserving the ocean and waterways at the 21st annual Waterman’s Ball.”

Three time World Champion and Waterman of the Year, Tom Curren, is considered the leader of the surfing revolution of the ‘80s and a source of inspiration for many of today’s surfers. As the King of Style who has been emulated the world over, Tom’s buttery-smooth rhythm, raw power and unique check turns led him to outsurf the rest. During his reign as World Champion, everyone wanted to surf like Curren.

The rivalry in the 80’s between Australian wunderkind Mark Occhilupo and California soul champion Curren produced some of the most exciting competitive clashes in the history of surfing. Their most memorable battle was the Rip Curl Bells Pro semi that clinched Curren's first World Title in 1985. In 2009, the Billabong Pro at Jeffreys Bay pitted the duo in a “Clash of the Icons” for two expression session heats resulting in a tie with one win each.

Outside of the water, Curren developed a memorable surfing career alongside Channel Island’s Al Merrick, this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, co-producing and riding many pro surfboard models such as the Black Beauty and the Red Beauty. As an overall ambassador for the sport of surfing, SIMA is proud to be honoring Curren as the 2010 Waterman of the Year.

“As surfing's style master, honoring Tom Curren as Waterman of the Year has been a long time coming,” said Doug Palladini, SIMA President and the VP of Marketing for Vans. “His one-of-a-kind, soulful style ignited the surf industry in the 1980s and continues to inspire surfers today. It is truly an honor to recognize Tom for his accomplishments and contributions to surfing at the 2010 Waterman’s Weekend.”

Environmentalist of the Year, Robert F. Kennedy Jr, has a heroic reputation as the resolute defender of the environment. Kennedy has been given such prestigious honors as being named one of Time magazine's “Heroes for the Planet,” for his success of helping Riverkeeper lead the fight to restore the Hudson River. The group's achievement helped spawn more than 125 Waterkeeper organizations across the globe, which includes Waterman’s Weekend beneficiary organizations: Assateaague Coastkeeper, Orange County Coastkeeper, Santa Barbara Channelkeeper and Santa Monica Baykeeper.

As well as serving as the President of the Waterkeepr Alliance, Kennedy serves as Senior Attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council and Chief Prosecuting Attorney for the Hudson Riverkeeper. Credited for fighting back anti-environmental legislation in congress, Kennedy is regarded as an international model in stakeholder consensus negotiations and sustainable development. His valiant efforts to preserve and protect our waters has set a precedent in environmental law as well as for the future and we are honored to have such a strong environmental leader as this year’s SIMA Environmentalist of the Year.

“The SIMA Environmental Board of Directors could not be more elated to honor such a worthy environmentalist and true advocate of our waters as this year’s SIMA Environmentalist of the Year,” commented Naude.

“Through his environmental law stewardship and advocacy, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has made a direct impact on our oceans and way of life. If it were not for his efforts and leadership of the Waterkeeper Alliance, we would be without the amazing work of four of our very own Waterman’s Weekend beneficiaries. Mr. Kennedy has not only begun a program through the Waterkeeper Alliance to protect the bays, channels, coasts, and rivers of today, but the foundation of a movement that will continue to grow and preserve the ocean for the generations to come.”

For the past four decades the world’s top surfers have trusted this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, Al Merrick, with their livelihood. As arguably the most well-known shaper of all time, Merrick’s fingerprints are not only on the revolutionary boards he shapes, but the progression and culture of the surf industry as well. Merrick hand shaped Waterman of the Year Tom Curren’s quiver since Curren was a kid and when Curren’s status as a pro surfer exploded on the scene in the early 80s, so did Merrick and his surfboard label, Channel Islands.

While no one can surf like Curren, Kelly Slater, Rob Machado, Lisa Andersen or Shaun Tomson, they can at least ride their boards - created by Merrick. Still to this day, Merrick’s mission is to provide the most dedicated surfers with the most advanced, performance designs, continuing not only his legacy, but his impact on the surf industry into the future.

“The names Al Merrick and Channel Islands are praised by surfers around the globe,” said Palladini. “Al has truly been instrumental in growing the sport of surfing through his artistic and innovative board building. In his lifetime, Al has helped hand-shape not only the boards of the best surfers in the sport, but greatly enhanced their potential as athletes. The SIMA Board of Directors is proud to honor a man of many passionate accomplishments and one of the best shapers there ever has been, Al Merrick, with the Lifetime Achievement Award.”

The two-day fundraising event benefits the SIMA Environmental Fund, a 501(c)(3) charitable foundation that awards grants to various environmental groups based on their dedication to preserving and protecting the world’s oceans, beaches and waves. Last year’s event attracted more than 700 people and raised more than $400,000 for 17 ocean conservation groups. The 2010 Waterman’s Weekend environmental beneficiaries and this year’s fundraising goal will be announced in the coming weeks.