Occy named Waterman of the year!

More than 850 professional surfers and surf industry VIP’s supported the most anticipated surf event of the year, the SIMA Environmental Fund’s Waterman’s Ball, on Friday, August 22.

The event took place at the St. Regis Monarch Beach in Dana Point, Calif., and the SIMA Environmental Fund Board of Directors are confident that the final amount raised at the event will approximately match the goal of $500,000 for oceans and surf breaks around the world.

At the Ball, SIMA honored former world surfing champion Mark “Occy” Occhilupo as Waterman of the Year, musician Jackson Browne as Environmentalist of the Year, and surf contest pioneer Eduardo Arena with the Lifetime Achievement Award. Surfrider Foundation and Sierra Club’s Friends of the Foothills campaign also received Special Recognition Awards for their ongoing battle to save Trestles and stop the development of the 241 Toll Road.

Funds raised will go directly to supporting specific programs of 17 non-profit environmental organizations that address water quality and ocean pollution issues, defend beaches and surf breaks from development, and provide public education on ocean conservation. Beneficiaries include:

Surfrider Foundation, Ocean Institute, WiLDCOAST, Heal the Bay, Orange County CoastKeeper, Surfing Education Association, Alaska Wilderness League, Seymour Marine Discovery Center, Algalita Marine Research Foundation, Save the Waves Coalition, Reef Check, KAHEA: The Hawaiian-Environmental Alliance, SINADES: Natural Systems and Development Civil Association, Sierra Club’s Friends of the Foothills campaign, Santa Barbara Channelkeeper, North Shore Community Land Trust, and Assateague Coastal Trust.

“Jackson Browne said it perfectly in his acceptance speech for Environmentalist of the Year and gave me a new favorite saying; ‘A clean environment is the most basic human right,’” said Paul Naudé, president of the SIMA Environmental Fund and CEO of Billabong USA.

“Waterman’s Weekend is a meaningful and powerful event for the whole surf industry because it is a time when we can support the organizations that are preserving the very resource our industry would not survive without – the ocean. As well as concentrating on our oceanic-environment, Waterman’s Weekend is a time to recognize our honorees who have made an impact in the sport of surfing and the environment.”

Mark “Occy” Occhilupo, Waterman of the Year

Waterman of the Year, Mark “Occy” Occhilupo, has made his mark on the sport of surfing as a legendary surf icon. Coming onto the surf scene at the age of nine, Occy found his passion for the perfect wave on the beaches of Cronulla near where he grew up in southern Sydney. The
goofyfooter exploded onto the surf contest scene at age16 and began his career that would later lead to his recognition as the man with the best backhand hook.

One of the most remarkable parts of Occy’s career was his ability to surge from the depths of depression and burnout throughout the early nineties to the rebirth of his surfing career in 1996 after re-qualifying through the World Qualifying Series for the prestigious World Championship Tour. He hit the peak of his career in 1999 when he won and was crowned with the long overdue World Title. After two decades of leading the scene as a top world surfer, Occy surfed his last touring professional heat in 2007, rounding out a truly epic career that has stretched the boundaries of the sport of surfing.

Jackson Browne, Environmentalist of the Year

Best described as the first to volunteer for an environmental cause and the last to seek recognition, Jackson Browne was honored as Environmentalist of the Year for his lifelong commitment to the fragile planet. Well-known for his gift as a musical artist, Jackson utilizes his talent to raise awareness, participation, and funds for environmental causes. He strives to make the biggest impact and tailors a majority of his efforts to grass-roots environmental causes with minimal overhead, targeting the “little guy” that does the important work.

His long list of performance benefits, as well as dedication of time and resources, includes benefits for the Ventura Hillsides Conservancy, Waterkeeper Alliance, Heal The Bay – Santa Monica, and to prevent offshore drilling on the California Coast, oil and gas development in the Santa Barbara region, and opposition of nuclear development at Diablo Canyon, to name a few. An avid surfer, Jackson has made his absolute and unflinching commitment to the environment, particularly the oceans, a lifelong project.

“The qualifications for SIMA Environmentalist of the Year are extremely precise and tailored to environmental efforts as they impact the surf industry,” said Paul Naudé, president of the SIMA Environmental Fund and CEO of Billabong USA. “As a true surfer, Jackson Browne more than fulfills this prestigious role and is passionate about using his music to protect our waves. From projects like Heal The Bay to preventing offshore drilling – Jackson has made a huge impact on our coastal lines, something I know everyone in the surf industry is more than appreciative of. We are proud to call Jackson Browne our SIMA Environmentalist of the Year.”

Eduardo Arena, Lifetime Achievement Award

Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, Eduardo Arena, is acknowledged as being a World Surfing Championships contest pioneer. Eduardo is well-known for using his own resources and passion for surfing to bring together various countries and theories of surfing. In the 1960s Eduardo’s efforts in Peru helped create the platform for the first World Surfing Championships, as well as the International Surfing Federation (ISF).

Serving as the president of ISF for eight years, Eduardo was among the pioneering group of ISF officials who wrote our first modern surf judging criteria, clearly influencing and setting the tone of the way surf contests all over the world are judged today. Eduardo’s impact over the surf world is both international and extensive, and SIMA is proud to honor Eduardo Arena with the SIMA Lifetime Achievement Award.

Surfrider & Friends of the Foothills, Special Recognition Awards

Surfrider and Friends of the Foothills were honored with Special Recognition Awards. Advocating against the development of the 241 Toll Road in southern Orange County and protecting Trestles has been an ongoing battle for these two organizations. They have won some courageous victories, and will continue the long-term fight to preserve our surf and environment – including the battle to stop the Toll Road extension through Trestles. Their efforts are strongly supported and valued by the entire surf community.

“Every dollar spent on the weekend, every golfer on the links, every bid on the auctions, and every attendee at the ball made a difference for our surf breaks, ocean, and the environment,” said Dick Baker, SIMA Chairman Emeritus. “On behalf of SIMA, thank you to all of those who supported the 19th Annual Waterman’s Weekend.”

The SIMA Environmental Fund is a 501(c)(3) charitable foundation formed by the surf industry to provide support in the form of grants to environmental organizations. The annual Waterman's Weekend serves as the primary fundraiser for the SIMA Environmental Fund through the Waterman's Classic Golf Tournament and Waterman's Ball and Auction. This year's Waterman's Classic took place on Thursday, August 21, at the Monarch Beach Golf Links. The Waterman's Ball and Auction were held Friday, August 22, at The St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort & Spa in Dana Point, Calif.

For media inquires or photos from the event please contact SIMA Communications Coordinator, Mandy Johnson at Mandy@sima.com or 949.366.1164 x7.

The Surf Industry Manufacturers Association (SIMA) is the official working trade association of more than 300 surf industry suppliers. Founded in 1989, SIMA is a non-profit organization that serves to promote awareness of the surf industry and participation in the sport of surfing through public relations efforts and a variety of services, educational programs and research.

In addition, SIMA actively supports oceanic environmental efforts through its 501(c)(3) charitable environmental foundation, the SIMA Environmental Fund. In the past 18 years, SIMA's Environmental Fund has raised more than $4 million for environmental groups seeking to protect the world's oceans, beaches and waves. The SIMA Humanitarian Fund, also a 501(c)(3) charitable foundation, was established in 2006 to award grants to various surf or boardsport related social and humanitarian non-profit organizations whose efforts are focused on improving the quality of life, health and/or welfare of people.

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