One important thing we've learned so far in 2014 is this: There actually is one better thing to put on parade in Huntington Beach over a surfboard. Elevate the idea by pairing up a famous shaper with an iconic artist, and you have a one-of-a-kind art piece that encompasses the soul of Surf City.
This is precisely what the Rotary Club of Huntington Beach has done to ring in the centennial of 100 years of surfing at the HB Pier, and it's appropriately dubbed "Surfboards on Parade." The philanthropic group has also upped the impact of the collaborative community exhibition series by linking arms with local groups, including the Huntington Beach Art Center, International Surfing Museum and Hoag Family Cancer Institute, and proceeds from the October auction will help battle skin cancer.
The first of 27 boards, which features a collaboration between HB-based shaper Tim Stamps and marine life artist Wyland, premiered on January 14—shocking some spectators with its not-so-friendly shark scene. On Tuesday, March 11, HB scored a look at the second board, an epic partnership between prominent shaper Robert August and celebrated pop culture graphic artist-illustrator John Van Hamersveld commemorating the 50th anniversary of The Endless Summer. August shaped the board as a replica of the one he rode in the beloved 1966 Bruce Brown surf documentary, and Hamersveld, the man behind the iconic, retro Endless Summer movie poster, brought the board to life with the saturated pinks, oranges and yellows and dark silhouettes of the renowned, abstract image.
With the Hilton Waterfront Beach Resort as the stage and the Pacific Ocean as the backdrop, the unveiling invited key members of the series and community, including the always witty and very recognizable host Pete "PT" Townend, to speak about the project and its crucial role in surf culture and mission to eradicate skin cancer. Clad in custom hot pink Sanuk kicks, Townend helped move along the slew of notable speakers, which was bridged by the spirit of aloha via a surprise Hawaiian drum song and hula dance by Costa Mesa-based Tupua Productions.
Every word spoken during the event brought meaning to the project, and Surfing Heritage & Culture Center Executive Director Paul K. Strauch, Jr., nailed it when he recognized HB for its devotion to the sport of surfing over the last century. Waxing nostalgic about representing Hawaii in the 1965 U.S. Surfing Championships in HB, Strauch said, "We should all be very, very proud of Huntington Beach and its ranking in the world in terms of what it's done for the entire sport of surfing."
The Center's Curator and Creative Director Barry Haun then took to the mic to honor the late International Surfing Museum Founder Natalie Kotsch, who passed away on February 20. "For being a non-surfer she was one of the biggest supporters of surfing," he said. "It's kind of strange being at an event here and not seeing her in the audience. I know we all miss her and love her very much."
August’s son Sam August and Hamersveld finally graced the stage to present the board, a collaboration which both parties were thankful and honored to have been a part of. Said Sam, "We got a chance to do this project with John, and the board itself is a replica of the board that my dad road in the movie The Endless Summer. With John's art the board is just so unique."
The board proved unique indeed, as delighted gasps, cheers and applause roared from the crowd as the black cloak fell from the 10-foot masterpiece. Our hats fall to you, August and Hamersveld.
August and Hamersveld's board will display at the Hilton through August 17, when it will then join the other 26 surfboards on parade at the HB Art Center on August 30.
March plays a key role in "Surfboards on Parade," with two more board unveilings happening Tuesday, March 18, and Tuesday, March 25. For details on all upcoming events honoring George Freeth’s historic ride in 1914, check out our 100 years of surfing events guide.