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Monday, March 8, 2010
Updated: June 15, 10:41 AM ET
For want of water

Kohl Christianson and Greg Long going big, and not in the traditional sense.

Surfing is not confined to terrain parks, highbrow resorts or the like. From time to time our pursuit carries us to farflung destinations, and occasionally puts us on the frontlines when tragedy strikes. Be it terrorist bombings in Bali or tsunamis in Sumatra, or floods in Louisiana and earthquakes in Haiti, time and again our small tribe finds a way of making an impact when duty calls.

Immediately following the devastating earthquake in Chile, Jesse Faen, who has traveled extensively through the country and owns a house in the seaside community of Curanipe (the epicenter was less than four kilometers from the town's center), dashed off an urgent email to everybody in his extensive contact list.

"Information coming out of this remote region has been very limited, due to power lines and phone access being cut off," he wrote. "What has filtered in, however, is heartbreaking. No one in Chile is expecting a hand out, but they most certainly are in need of urgent help immediately."

Ramon Navarro carving out a water filter.
Heeding the call to action, Save The Waves, an environmental organization with an affinity for the skinny South American state, stepped in to help guide a relief effort. And then, because it's just the kind of guys they are, Greg Long, Kohl Christianson, and Chile's native big-wave son Ramon Navarro spearheaded an operation to gather as many water filters and other necessary supplies. Over the weekend they left Southern California for the quake-ravaged Chilean coast.

"Save The Waves surf ambassador Ramon Navarro is leading the way in these efforts, and with his local knowledge of the region has already helped to supply initial water filters to provide clean drinking water," reads a Mar. 6 Save the Waves press release. "Volunteers have also helped to clean up a school in Boyeruca that has suffered major damage. While more supplies arrive, water filters will continue to be dispersed over the coming days to help the many displaced families that are still without clean drinking water."

From scraps to shelter.
"Further south, in the coastal town of Curanipe Save The Waves' Josh Berry arrived Saturday with a team of medics and truckloads of relief supplies, to distribute in the region. Berry and team also rendezvoused with Save The Waves' local Coastkeeper program manager and Curanipe resident, Rodrigo de la O, who is directing a large portion of the relief efforts in the area."

It's also worth noting that Save the Waves have teamed up with Jon Rose's organization Waves For Water. Rose, an occassional contributor to ESPN Surfing, found himself on the ground in Padang when an earthquake struck there earlier in the year, and most recently actor Sean Penn called upon his expertise to help organize a relief project in Haiti.

If you're keen, the LA Times posted an interesting story about surfers' involvement in the Chile relief effort, and you can always go to either or to find out how to help.