The Surfers’ Hall of Fame Announces its 2013 Inductees

SURFERS’ HALL OF FAME ANNOUNCES AN EXTRAORDINARY CLASS OF INDUCTEES AS
SHANE DORIAN, SKIP FRYE & ROCKIN’ FIG JOIN THE ELITE GROUP ON FRIDAY, JULY 26

HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. – The Surfers’ Hall of Fame is pleased to announce one of its most extraordinary classes to date when it inducts three generations of surfing royalty including a legendary surfer/shaper who made an indelible mark in the 60s, an iconic local personality and member of the first NSSA National Team in 1978, and a “new school” world tour veteran acknowledged as one of the best big wave riders in the world. Skip Frye, Rick “Rockin Fig” Fignetti and Shane Dorian will have their hand and footprints immortalized in cement for the ages on Friday, July 26 at 10 a.m. in front of Huntington Surf & Sport.

The Surfers’ Hall of Fame induction ceremony pays tribute to those individuals who have made an indelible mark on the sport, industry and culture of surfing. Annually, tens of thousands of visitors travel to Huntington Beach’s downtown area and literally walk in the footsteps of surfing superstars and legends from several eras including Laird Hamilton, Andy Irons, Jack O’Neill, Robert August, Bob Hurley, Sean Collins, Kelly Slater, Lisa Andersen, Pat O’Connell, Al Merrick, Shaun Tomson, Rob Machado and Rabbit Kekai, who are already immortalized in cement.

“We are extremely honored and looking forward to Skip Frye, Rick Fignetti and Shane Dorian being inducted into the Surfers’ Hall of Fame this July,” said Surfers’ Hall of Fame founder Aaron Pai. Brief inductee bios include:

Skip Frye: Skip Frye was born in 1941 and began surfing at age 16 after moving with his family to the north San Diego suburb of Pacific Beach. By the mid-60s the shy but focused Frye had become one of California’s best competitors. Known for his gliding, fluid style which allowed him to capture several local and national titles, Skip went on to represent the U.S. internationally in 1966. Frye began shaping surfboards in 1963 and within two years was working for San Diego’s Gordon & Smith’s Surfboards (in 1966 G&S introduced the Skip Frye signature model). Frye was riding a 9’6” board in late 1967 when he traveled to Australia with the legendary Windansea Surf Club for an American versus Australia team contest (the U.S. team got waxed by Aussies riding lighter boards). After that trip, Skip became more interested in shorter more maneuverable boards and began experimenting with designs such as the V-bottom and Baby Gun. He kept refining the designs and ultimately led Skip to design a board he called the Egg, one of his best-known shapes. Frye has shaped boards for Rob Machado and Brad Gerlach among other elite surfers.

“Skip Frye is one of the all-time great surfers and one of the all-time great surfboard shapers! Skip is true surfing royalty,” said Pai.

Rick “Rockin Fig” Fignetti: For more than 20 years, the name Rockin Fig has been synonymous with surfing and Huntington Beach. From his lengthy stint on KROQ FM as the resident “surfologist” to announcing major competitions like the U.S. Open of Surfing, Bud Surf Tour and NSSA Nationals, his unique and quirky voice is instantly recognizable to competitors and fans alike. Fig competed in the first NSSA National Championships in 1978, making it to the finals and was on the Orange Coast College team that won a title in 1979 and 1980. Although a 10-time

West Coast Surfing Champion, an individual NSSA title remained elusive for 35 years until he won his first (and second) titles as a 55 year-old last year. Considered an institution locally, Fig is the proprietor at Rockin Fig Surf Headquarters on Main Street; an old-school shop with tons of surfboards that he is happy to discuss with an encyclopedic knowledge. Rick is also a journalist of some note, penning a column in the Huntington Beach Independent and Los Angeles Times for many years. Hardcore surfers can find him most every day on the north side of the pier riding waves and loving life.

Pai added, “Rick ‘Rockin Fig’ Fignetti is a home grown Huntington Beach surfing legend; one of Huntington’s finest!”

Shane Dorian: A fearless surfer from Hawaii’s Big Island, Shane’s lengthy resume of accomplishments includes costarring in the 1998 big-wave melodrama In God’s Hands, winning the 1999 Rip Curl Bells and 2000 Billabong Pro Mundaka World Tour events, and a top 5 ASP ranking in 2000. The wiry (5’8”, 150 pounds) Dorian was a leading “New School” aerialist in the early ‘90s, is a tube rider of phenomenal agility and precision, and since the middle ‘90s has been one of the world’s best big-wave riders (his North Shore sessions with Brock Little and the late Todd Chesser are the stuff of legends) taking top prize in the 2008 XXL Global Big Wave awards. Shane began surfing at age five in 1977 and by the mid-late 80’s was a veteran of both the U.S. Championships and World Amateur Surfing Championships. Dorian joined the ASP World Tour in 1993 where he hovered outside of the top 10 for a number of years before cracking the barrier with a fourth-place finish in 2000. Popular among surfers and fans, Shane finished runner-up to Kelly Slater in the 2000 Surfer Magazine Readers Poll Awards and finished 2nd in the prestigious 2001 Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau big wave contest. Shane received the coveted “Waterman of the Year” award from SIMA in 2012, one of the sport’s highest honors.

Regarding Shane Dorian, Pai stated, “Shane Dorian is one of the most gifted new school big wave surfers on the planet and a truly amazing WATERMAN in our sport today!”

The nation’s first imprint collection of legendary surfers, the Surfers’ Hall of Fame celebrated its first induction in 1997 inside of specialty retailer Huntington Surf & Sport where several slabs remain. Four years later with the blessing of the City Council and a stunning bronze statue of sport’s spiritual leader Duke Kahanamoku serving as a backdrop, the ceremony moved outside to the corner of PCH and Main; less than 100 feet from the famed Huntington Beach Pier, site of the U.S. Open of Surfing.

The Surfers’ Hall of Fame induction ceremony is open to the public, free-of-charge.

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Press Contacts:
Mike Kingsbury, Jennifer Hernandez, MKM
Mike@teammkm.com; Jennifer@teammkm.com
(714) 375-2188

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Andy Verdone

Andy Verdone“When considering Andy Verdone for induction we had many of our grassroots community come out and support him because of his 25 years of coaching and supporting surfing, plus the impact that he has had on so many of the kids who live in this town,” said Surfers’ Hall of Fame founder Aaron Pai. “He has been a major “positive force” in taking our sport of surfing to the next level while telling the kids to stay in school, get good grades, stay away from drugs, go to college… he truly has been a great example to us all!”

Pai added, “Andy has impacted kid’s lives in many ways including his legendary surf trips around the world. I’ve seen him charge huge waves at Jeffreys Bay in South Africa, Byron Bay in Australia and the north side of the Huntington Pier! We are stoked to be able to recognize and to thank Andy for his contributions and achievements to our Surfing World!”

Coach Andy Verdone took over from the late Chuck Allen in ‘87-’88 and immediately lead Huntington Beach High School Surf (HBHS) Team to a NSSA National title. Verdone, who had been student teaching at Westminster High, remembers showing up to Allen’s annual banquet in 1988, just as he was retiring and Verdone about to step in. He watched as Allen gave away college scholarships to kids – nothing he’d ever seen in any other sport.

“It was big, on a grand scale,” Verdone said at the time, “Rarely do you meet a man who has had such great influence on the sport. I could call him any time, and he’d have time for me. I had a lot of sleepless nights in the early years trying to follow in his footsteps.”

Now known as the “Phil Jackson” of surf coaches, Verdone parlayed Allen’s success and has built his program into among the most successful and winningest in the country, capturing 10 NSSA National Titles as well as a National Surf League Title in 2010. A formidable ex-football coach turned 25-plus year surf coach for Huntington Beach High School, Coach Verdone is known for his disciplinary coaching style and turning out some of the best surfers in the world. He has trained and coached some of the best surfers in Huntington Beach including the Deffenbaugh brothers, Jay Larson, Micah Byrne, Shaun Ward and Brett Simpson.

A huge part of Coach Verdone’s program is his legendary surf trips with the team to such destinations as Australia, South Africa and Ireland. He also raises funds to take students to state and national tournaments. A fixture on the southside of the Huntington Beach Pier, on any given school day, you should see Andy and his merry clan, ripping the pier!

Coach Verdone and his young globetrotters appeared in a 2007 surf documentary called “Chasing the Dream”, which follows eight kids on his squad who want to become pros. Year after year 100 students try out for his squad and only 30 make the cut. Verdone’s impact on the sport of surfing in Surf City is such that one young surfer moved here from Nantucket, Massachusetts without his family just to surf for the Huntington Beach Oilers

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Dane Reynolds

Dane Reynolds“Dane Reynolds is the most exciting Freesurfer in the world today and many of our young surfers wanted him in the Surfers’ Hall of Fame this year,” said Aaron Pai. “We are honored and very excited to induct him into the Surfers’ Hall of Fame!”

Reynolds, a 26-year-old from Ventura, California, is easily one of the most exciting and creative surfers on the planet; known for his “go for broke” style of surfing that includes a repertoire of experimental and aerial maneuvers. He was born in 1985 and started surfing at the age of 10 after he moved from Bakersfield to Ventura. It was here on the point breaks around Santa Barbara that Dane honed his progressive style. He first started competing at age 13 and by age 17 was considered to be California’s greatest hope for a world title, the heir to Tom Curren’s late ’80s early ’90s soul reign, and heartthrob to tons of teenage girls reading the surf magazines.

Reynolds competed in the 2003 and 2004 X Games and received the highest single wave score both years. His first video, “First Chapter”, won Best Male Performance in a Video and Video of the Year at the 2006 Surfer Poll Awards. Dane qualified for the 2008 World Tour after finishing runner-up to Jordy Smith in the 2007 World Qualifying Series. He wound up 19th on the tour that year and then rocketed into the coveted Top 10 in 2009. Reynolds had a breakout year in 2010, ending up tied for fourth in the world. It only seemed like a matter of time before he would dethrone Kelly Slater.

2011 came and went, but injuries kept him out of several events and seemed to throttle his competitive drive, but not his desire to push the boundaries of the sport. “I don’t put too much importance on winning contests, which I think can make surfing boring,” Reynolds said in an interview. “You’ve got guys doing safe turns all the way to the beach to get a seven-point ride. I don’t see the point of that. I prefer surfing as an art as opposed to a sport. It’s such a rad thing that it’s crazy to confine it to a certain criteria.”

In one of his few mainstream media interviews, Rolling Stone opined that one of the ways to understand just how differently Reynolds sees waves-and the act of riding them-is to consider the fact that, for a guy who makes his living on the water, he spends a lot of time in the air. His athletic, acrobatic free-surf style is punctuated by unearthly aerial maneuvers and cartoonish twists and turns, running counter to the straight-ahead, power mode that seems to dominate the professional circuit today. But in Reynolds’s view, it really isn’t whether you win or lose, but rather what you do when you’re confronted with a break.

In announcing that he was leaving full-time competitive surfing, Dane posted on his website that, “Surfing is my passion in life. I always think about how lucky we are that there’s even an ocean, and it’s not too hot or too turbulent and it’s not made of acid that burns our skin off. And how lucky is it that the land tapers into the ocean in just the right way so that when lumps of energy approach from a thousand miles away they gently rise up and crash at just the perfect speed so that we can wave our little arms and match their speed and hang at the crest weightless for just a second before sliding down the face. There are tons of them (waves). They keep coming, all different sizes shapes and speeds; endless joy.”

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Rabbit Kekai

Rabbit Kekai“One of the great icons in our sport of Surfing, Rabbit Kekai is a true inspiration…especially to young surfers,” said Surfers’ Hall of Fame founder Aaron Pai. “He has preserved his surfing culture in a very positive way, and that is by simply living it. We are honored and excited to induct Rabbit into the Surfers’ Hall of Fame!”

Nicknamed “Rabbit” for being one of the island’s fastest runners, Kekai is a living legend in the world of surfing; one that has done it all from Waikiki beach boy to groundbreaking surfer to North Shore Beach Marshall. Born in 1920 and raised in Waikiki, Rabbit began surfing at age five. At age 10 he was taken under the wing of Duke Kahanamoku who paid his entries into canoe races and had him teaching surf lessons.

A pioneer of North Shore surfing in the ’30s with George Downing and Wally Froiseth, Rabbit became known as an innovator of drop-knee turns on short, finless boards. He practically invented hot-dogging, inspiring the likes of Phil Edwards, Joe Quigg, Miki Dora and Donald Takayama. He also had a direct part in the development of surfers such as Joey Cabell, Jeff Hakman and Randy Rarick among others. The quintessential Waikiki beachboy, Rabbit boasted many Hollywood elite of the day as clients including David Niven, Red Skelton, Dorothy Lamour and Kirk Douglas.

Rabbit made his own redwood and balsa boards prior to World War II, at which time he served as an army frogman in the South Pacific. As an Army-trained underwater demolitions man, Kekai spent more than three years planting explosives on island-based enemy defenses in Micronesia, helping clear pathways for American troops. He was one of four from his 12-man platoon to return from action.

Following his return from the war, Rabbit’s surfing continued to improve and he won the Peruvian and Makaha International titles during the ’50s. He returned to his job as a beachboy, but also worked construction and as a longshoreman. Beginning in the ‘70s, Kekai worked for the annual North Shore contests. Each winter season, he can be found at every Triple Crown event, doling out jerseys, wisecracks and advice as Beach Marshall, a position he has held since the first Pipeline Masters.

Year after year he was the most active surfer in his age group, winning the United States Surfing Championships in 1973, 1980, 1984 and 1988. In the legends division of the 2000 event, surfing against men nearly 15 years his junior, the 79 year-old finished fourth. Commenting on his many accomplishments, Rabbit responds, “When you pass 500 trophies, years and years ago, you lose count.” Now in his ninth decade, his enthusiasm for talking stories, telling jokes and surfing are as strong as ever.

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Surfers’ Hall of Fame – 15th Anniversary

SHF Framed Invitation_12SURFERS’ HALL OF FAME CELEBRATES ITS 15TH ANNIVERSARY BY INDUCTING RABBIT KEKAI, DANE REYNOLDS AND ANDY VERDONE ON FRIDAY, AUGUST 3, 2012

HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. – The Surfers’ Hall of Fame is pleased to announce one of its most exciting and diverse classes on Friday, August 3, 2012 when it inducts a Waikiki Beach Boy mentored by Hawaiian Royalty, one of the most creative and gifted surfers on the planet and the man responsible for coaching hundreds of students and winning multiple national championships. Rabbit Kekai, Dane Reynolds and Andy Verdone will have their hand and footprints immortalized in cement for the ages at 10:00 a.m. in front of Huntington Surf & Sport. Famed sports commentators David Stanfield and Rockin’ Fig will serve as Masters of Ceremony.

The nation’s first imprint collection of legendary surfers, the Surfers’ Hall of Fame celebrated its first induction in 1997 inside of specialty retailer Huntington Surf & Sport where several slabs remain. Four years later with the blessing of the City Council and a stunning bronze statue of sport’s spiritual leader Duke Kahanamoku serving as a backdrop, the ceremony moved outside to the corner of PCH and Main; less than 100 feet from the famed Huntington Beach Pier, site of the U.S. Open of Surfing. Please visit http://hsssurf.com/shof for more information.

“Rabbit Kekai, Dane Reynolds and Andy Verdone are three Surfing Legends that have influenced generations of Surfers past, present and future,” said Surfers’ Hall of Fame founder Aaron Pai. “We are very honored and excited to induct them into the Surfers’ Hall of Fame this coming August!”

Rabbit Kekai: Rabbit Kekai is a living legend that has done it all from Waikiki beach boy to groundbreaking surfer to North Shore Beach Marshall. At age 10 he was taken under the wing of Duke Kahanamoku who paid his entries into canoe races and had him teaching surf lessons. A pioneer of North Shore surfing in the ’30s with George Downing and Wally Froiseth, Rabbit became known as an innovator of drop-knee turns on short, finless boards. He practically invented hot-dogging, inspiring the likes of Phil Edwards, Joe Quigg, Miki Dora and Donald Takayama. Rabbit made his own redwood and balsa boards prior to World War II, at which time he served as an army frogman in the South Pacific. A winner of the Peruvian and Makaha International titles during the ’50s, he has competed worldwide for decades. And each winter season he can be found at the Triple Crown of Surfing, doling out singlets, wisecracks and advice as Beach Marshall…just as he has every year since the first Pipe Masters in 1971.

Dane Reynolds: Dane Reynolds is a young charger known for his “go for broke” style of surfing that includes a number of experimental and aerial maneuvers. It was on the point breaks around Santa Barbara and Ventura that he honed his progressive approach. Reynolds competed in the 2003 and 2004 X Games and received the highest single wave score both years. His first video, “First Chapter”, won Best Male Performance in a Video and Video of the Year at the 2006 Surfer Poll Awards. Dane qualified for the 2008 World Tour after finishing runner-up to Jordy Smith on the 2007 World Qualifying Series. He wound up 19th on the tour that year and then rocketed into the coveted Top 10 in 2009. Reynolds had a breakout year in 2010, ending up tied for fourth in the world. Despite injuries that held him back in 2011 and thus far in 2012, Dane is known for pushing the boundaries of the sport. He spends as much time in the air as he does in the water while surfing, and his aggressive, almost violent style in attacking waves have earned him the praise of fellow pros, many of whom who call him the most exciting free surfer in the world.

Andy Verdone: Coach Andy Verdone took over from the late Chuck Allen in ‘87-’88 and immediately lead Huntington Beach High School Surf (HBHS) Team to a NSSA National title. Known as the “Phil Jackson” of surf coaches, Verdone has built his program into among the most successful and winningest in the country, capturing 10 NSSA National Titles as well as a National Surf League (Brad Gerlach’s “The Game” format) Title in 2010. He has trained and coached some of the best surfers in Huntington Beach including the Deffenbaugh brothers, Jay Larson, Micah Byrne, Shaun Ward and Brett Simpson. A huge part of Coach Verdone’s program is his legendary surf trips with the team to such destinations as Australia, South Africa and Ireland. Coach Verdone and his young globetrotters appeared in a 2007 surf documentary called “Chasing the Dream”, which follows eight kids on his squad who want to become pros. Year after year 100 students try out for his squad and only 30 make the cut. Verdone’s impact on the sport of surfing in Surf City is such that one young surfer moved here from Nantucket, Massachusetts without his family just to surf for the Huntington Beach Oilers.

The Surfers’ Hall of Fame induction ceremony pays tribute to those individuals who have made an indelible mark on the sport, industry and culture of surfing. Annually, tens of thousands of visitors to Huntington Beach’s downtown area literally walk in the footsteps of surfing superstars and legends from several eras including Laird Hamilton, Andy Irons, Jack O’Neill, Robert August, Bob Hurley, Sean Collins, Kelly Slater, Lisa Andersen, Pat O’Connell, Al Merrick, Shaun Tomson and Rob Machado who are already immortalized in cement.

The Surfers’ Hall of Fame induction ceremony is open to the public, free-of-charge. Further information is available at http://hsssurf.com/shof/.

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Press Contacts:

Mike Kingsbury, Jennifer Hernandez, MKM

Mike@teammkm.com; Jennifer@teammkm.com

(714) 375-2188

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Taylor Knox

Taylor KnoxCalifornia native Taylor Knox has often been spoken of as a world title contender since he joined the ASP World Tour as a rookie in 1993. Part of 1990’s “New School” crew that replaced the 80’s power surfers, Knox was known for his rail-to-rail style of surfing. Although unable to garner consistent wins on the pro circuit, Taylor won the 1995 U.S. Championship and then led the 1996 American team to victory at the ISA World Surfing Games with his first place finish in the talent-rich men’s division. In February 1998, Knox catapulted into the international spotlight by winning the inaugural K2 Big-Wave Challenge, an event that offered $50,000 to the surfer who caught the biggest wave of the winter and had photographic evidence. Knox unknowingly dropped into a 52-foot behemoth at Todos Santos that made him a mainstream media darling.

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Chuck Linnen

Chuck LinnenA longtime Huntington Beach surfer, Chuck rode his first wave in 1954, was a men’s finalist at the 1958 Oceanside Invitational and competed in his first U.S. Championships in 1959, held in his hometown. Linnen was among the first wave of California surfers to travel to the North Shore in the early 1960s and was a finalist at the 1961 world contest held at Makaha. He also competed at the 1964 world contest in Peru and was runner-up at the Malibu Masters event in 1973. Linnen helped shape the culture and character of Huntington Beach as a mentor and role model to local surfers—teaching future legends like Corky Carroll how to “shoot the pier.” The “surf king” as many called him was a member of the Huntington Beach Surfing Association and ‘The Boys of 55’ surf club. A retired Irvine high school teacher, Linnen most recently held the NSSA Senior Champ and WSA Grand Master titles.

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George Downing

George DowningThe Surfers’ Hall of Fame is proud to honor George Downing one of the great pioneers of big-wave surfing, leaders of our sport, and major force in preserving oceans, reefs, waves and beaches. George is an ambassador to our sport of Surfing, a Legend and is true Surf Royalty,” said Surfers’ Hall of Fame founder, Aaron Pai. “We are thrilled to be able to thank George Downing for his contributions and achievements to our surfing world and stoked that he will be here for his induction into the Surfers’ Hall of Fame!”

Downing was born in 1930 and raised in Honolulu. He began surfing Waikiki at age nine and spent his teen years living with Wally Froiseth, one of the sport’s original big wave riders and co-creator of the Hot Curl surfboard. As the youngest in a group of World War II-era surfers that included Froiseth, John Kelly and Fran Heath, Downing was in on many of the earliest forays into big wave riding. Froiseth introduced Downing to the big surf at Makaha and later he was among the first to ride Laniakea on the North Shore and Maui’s Honolua Bay.

In a time before surf trips even existed, George sailed to California and spent two months in 1947 surfing up and down the coast. An unfortunate collision with the Malibu pier damaged the nose section of his board, but led him to learn about new materials called fiberglass and resin from a like-minded designer—the enigmatic Bob Simmons. Upon his return to Hawaii, Downing continued a systematic approach to gaining the knowledge that would allow him and his friends to ride ever-larger surf.

A keen student of weather and its impact on swell formation, Downing blended this knowledge with surfboard theory and construction. He not only created one of the earliest quivers with subtle variations in length, rocker and volume, but in 1950, produced the first board for truly big surf, and it soon became the template for all serious surfers. While the Hot Curl was finless, Downing’s 10-foot “Rocket” had the first removable fin. George and others like Walter Hoffman and Buzzy Trent, cracked first the 20, then 30-foot barrier at Makaha riding the innovative Rocket.

As a competitor, George won the Makaha International in 1954, 1961 and 1965, finished seventh at the 1965 World Championships and second at the 1967 Duke. He coached the Hawaiian team to victory in the 1968 World Surfing Championships and set numerous paddling records from 100 yards to one mile. As a businessman George Downing created the venerable Downing Surfboards, which his son Keone continues, and has worked to prevent the corporatization of the Waikiki beach concessions.

Mentor to dozens of Hawaiian surfers over the years, Downing also worked as one of the famed Waikiki beachboys for more than three decades. The longtime contest director of the Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau event, George Downing holds an important place in surfing culture.

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