Photos from SIMA’s Waterman’s Weekend 2023
SIMA hosted its annual Waterman’s Weekend Friday and Saturday with several new twists, including the addition of a more casual luau on Friday night and a new venue in Huntington Beach.
The annual event raises money for the SIMA Environmental Fund, which has donated nearly $10 million over 34 years to organizations dedicated to preserving and protecting the ocean, beaches, and waves.
About 210 people attended the Waterman’s Ball this year at The Pasea Resort & Spa, which was slightly higher than last year’s figures, according to SIMA.
This year’s honorees included:
- Waterperson of the Year Justine Dupont, who is breaking new ground as a big wave surfer.
- Environmentalist of the Year Dr. Cliff Kapono, a scientist and surfer who was recognized for his contributions to science, activism, and environmentalism.
- Lifetime Achievement Award Art Brewer, for his profound impact in the field of surf culture, photography, and media.
Auction items included an all-inclusive Tavarua surf trip for two, a 2023 Audi Q4 – an electric SUV, a South Africa package plus airfare, and a night at Surf Ranch.
SIMA Environmental Fund President and Stokehouse CEO Paul Naude, who recently received a Sea Change Ocean Champion award from Oceana, the largest international advocacy organization focused solely on ocean conservation, urged Waterman’s attendees to open up their wallets during the live auction.
“Please dig deep and spend some money – it’s not about the deal, it’s about really making a difference in what is arguably the world’s most precious resource,” Naude said. “As Jackson Browne said once on this very stage, ‘A clean environment is a basic human right.’ Let’s try to make that happen, and thank you.”
SIMA does not yet have an estimate of how much money was raised over the weekend, according to Executive Director Vipe Desai.
“We’re still working through a few more fundraising initiatives tied to the SIMA Environmental Fund but as you very well know, it’s a tough environment out there right now and we’re just happy that we were able to raise funds, regardless of how much, to support our environmental beneficiaries and we’ll continue to do so throughout the year,” he said.
Desai also said SIMA is hoping to return to The Pasea next year.
“The deciding factor in all of this comes down to availability of a date that work for us,” he said. “This year, we really wanted to be aligned with the US Open of Surfing and further our partnership with Visit Huntington Beach and we’re already working on securing plans for 2024 and beyond in hopes of also preparing for the Olympics.”
SIMA added the Friday night party and luau as a way to get more people in the industry involved with the weekend with a lower priced ticket in a more social setting. Desai said SIMA has ideas about how to evolve the party in the future.
“As always, you learn a lot when you launch the first event but with the support of Visit Huntington Beach, I’m very pleased with this first effort and we have some fun ideas to expand more participation next year as we get more closely aligned with the World Surf League, US Open of Surfing, and Visit Huntington Beach,” he said.
According to SIMA, industry brands that supported Waterman’s Weekend included:
- Rip Curl
- Surf Expo
- World Surf League
Big names missing this year included all the Boardriders brands and Vans, which historically have been big supporters of the event.
Some brands that didn’t attend were able to help by donating items for the live and silent auctions, however.
“We’re pleased with how many partners in the industry came out to support,” Desai said. “Even with the changes taking place on the macro level in the industry, there’s a lot of support from those outside the industry as well.”
The organizations that will benefit from Waterman’s Weekend this year include: 5 Gyres Institute, Clean Ocean Action, Heal the Bay, North Shore Community Land Trust, Ocean Institute, Orange County Coastkeeper, San Diego Coastkeeper, Santa Barbara Channelkeeper, Save the Waves Coalition, Surfing Education Association, Surfriders Foundation, Wildcoast, and Wishtoyo Foundation.