A few months ago, Don Ramsey of the Ramsey Brothers Band and the Kowabunga Van Klan, asked me to come to the International Surfing Museum in Downtown Huntington Beach. He thought that I should meet the museum’s director Diana Dehm. And so I did. One Sunday afternoon, I met with Don and Diana in a small room at the museum on Olive Ave. They told me about an ambitious project they had that involved teams of surfers forming “rings” in the water. Inspired by the Olympics, we started calling the project “the secret rings project.” Coincidentally, my son, who is on his high school surf team said that they had just practiced paddling out and forming a “circle” in the water, but he wasn’t really sure why. Turns out, this project was the reason why and in fact, Don and other surfers had already started forming teams.
I brainstormed with Don and Diana but wasn’t really involved in anything else about “the secret rings project.” Later, I was told that we couldn’t really make any direct reference to a “certain international summer games event” because of trademarks, copyright, and other legal mumbo jumbo- so the idea of forming several rings in the water, was dropped. And I pretty much didn’t hear about the rings project anymore until weeks later, when my son brought home a form for me to sign, to be a part of “The Surfing Circle of Honor.” And that’s when I knew the “rings project” was going to go on, except it would no longer be separate rings but instead, one massive circle! In fact, a circle of 500 plus surfers!
Flash forward to June 20, 2017. I took my son downtown at 7 am to join his Yellow Team of surfers for a world-record attempt. Their team was led by Huntington Beach High School Surf Coach Andy Verdone and HB Surf School’s Bill Sharp. Two-time US Open of Surfing Champ, Huntington Beach native Brett Simpson would also join their team! The other teams, red, blue, green, and black were also led by notable surfers, though I can’t remember them right now.
The five teams joined a parade that was led by the Huntington Beach High School Band and they made their way down Main Street to the beach through thick fog.
Video of Parade by Daniel Patten.
What was supposed to be a tw0-hour affair took longer, as surfers took to the water in groups of five (remember there were 500!) due to the rough conditions. It would take many attempts to form the circle of honor.
But in the end, they did it.
And it was Epic. That’s the best word to describe it. 511 surfers, including an 8-year-old grom, Sugar the Surfing Dog, and three hours later, a new world record had been officially set — the largest paddle out, the Surfing Circle of Honor, right here in Surf City USA, Huntington Beach, CA. They did it. More importantly, we did it. It was pretty cool to see the community come together for an event like this.