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Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Updated: June 15, 12:27 PM ET
Talking Issues at the Waterman's Ball

Rasta, Machado, Ryan Baker, Una Baker, Paul Naude, and Jack Baker, giving and accepting honors at the Ball.
Last Friday night when Rob Machado accepted his award as Waterman Of the Year, he addressed the crowd for a good thirty five minutes. He laughed, he cried, he told stories, and he showed appreciation. It was a great speech, considering throughout his entire career, he's said about eight words.

Each summer, the Surf Industry Manufacturers' Association brings industry, environmentalists, and athletes together for one high-rolling event in Laguna Beach to raise money for its environmental fund, and some eighteen beneficiaries. It's the Waterman's Ball, not to be confused with the Waterman's balls.

This year the Ritz Carlton hosted the shin-dig, honoring Waterman of the Year, Machado, Environmentalist of the Year, Dave Rastovich, and Lifetime Achievement recipient, Dick Baker. Rasta was recognized for his work leading Surfers for Cetaceans. Dick Baker, who passed this year, was celebrated, as his wife Una and (very witty) sons, Ryan and Jack accepted on his behalf.

Machado has had far more interesting years of his career. But this was more of an overall thing. Plus there's no organization that gives "Most Soulful White Dude on the Planet Award," so this was fitting.

A lot of famous and generous folks mingled (in the required dress code of blazers and Vans) watching a slow little wave peel into Salt Creek. They bid on items from Audi TDI's and Merricks to art and Lakers' tickets. They honored a few fellas who really went above and beyond this year, and then whacked back bottles of wine.

Items at the Ritz.

Now, I'm not much for golf, filet mignon, or red carpets, but any event where the industry raises money for the environment is a very worthy one. SIMA raised nearly a half million dollars for the various ocean causes. Since this is essentially an environmental fundraiser, I figured the best thing to do was chat with some folks you may have heard of, about what they feel will be our biggest issue regarding the ocean and the planet in the next five years.

Here's what they had to offer:

Rob Machado Professional surfer, stylemaster

"It's all about water — and not necessarily the ocean. We use water for everything. So much gets used. We need to start thinking about reducing and re-using the water we do use. Hey, if you haven't noticed, we (in Southern California) live in a desert. It's not supposed to be green. And the population's not going down. We have to start educating people to that."

Fernando Aguerre Former co-owner of Reef, ISA President, humanitarian, SIMA figurehead

"From the industry standpoint, it's a selfish motivation. If there is no ocean, there is no waves, there is no lifestyle, and we don't sell boardshorts and other gear. It's a no brainer. We have to start acting not on that premise, but on making a better world.

Waterman Tools

We don't see the s**t we do. It's usually an invisible pollutant. We affect it with whatever we do.

As a surfer, this is the place where I play, but we are the guinea pig. We are the first ones affected. We have to make it better for everybody."

Gerry Lopez Pipeline Legend, Patagonia Surf Ambassador

"I'd say raising people's awareness that these are issues that impact the surfing world directly. We have to get the kids that don't have this as a priority to engage. The younger we get the message to them, the earlier we start."

Vipe Desai Surfrider Foundation Board of Directors, Monster Energy Director of Marketing

"Water quality is so important. Not just for the ocean. I think we have a good handle on that now. We have to start thinking about the stuff that collects hundreds of miles inland. That means getting through to people outside the surfing world, just humans in general."

Some of the art auctioned off at the Waterman's Ball.

Jim Moriarity Surfrider CEO

"I see our mission working on the model of three different phenomena — Wikipedia, Napster, and cell-based organizations, all working within Surfrider.

Wikipedia is like a giant collaboration of knowledge. It's an avenue for everyone to share little pieces of information to build one solid document.

When I say Napster, I'm not talking about ripping the industry off. I'm talking about deep intelligence on a certain issue, like when you find that one guy with a huge collection of jazz. Someone might have a huge knowledge of sea walls that we can tap into and use for Surfrider good.

And cell-based means all these smaller, regional organizations that work with or within Surfrider. We have 70 chapters in 20 countries, and hundreds of potential chapters. They all want to create chapters, but we can't say yes to everyone right away. We can take them under the umbrella and walk them through it. Then in a few years, we have a new chapter. Those three things are key."