Making Waves at gala fundraiser

Chumash spiritual leader Alan Spirit Hawk Salizar conducts a ceremonial blessing before surfers head out to sea to form a healing circle. Ruthie Brownfield / TMT

Surfrider leaders talk about better water quality and “bad vibes” at annual fundraiser dinner for the Surfrider Foundation.

By Kim Devore

Staff Writer

There were pooka shells and vintage Hawaiian shirts aplenty as the Surfrider Foundation celebrated its annual Making Waves beach bash. About 200 H20 aficionados gathered at the Sunset Restaurant to kick back and talk about barrels, carves, cutbacks and share a spate of other intriguing shark tales.

The event, which in years past featured splashy outdoor concerts by legends like Jackson Brown, seemed a more low-key affair, but the surfing spirit was there.

Alan Sarlo, who has attended the gala ever since Edgar Winter played back in the 1990s, was hanging with his entire wave-riding brood, including daughter Sophie and wife Debrah.

“I think the water conditions have definitely gotten better,” the avid sportsman explained. “I remember when you used to go out there and get a big ring around your wetsuit. Now, the water’s clear, you can actually see your feet.”

Young surfer Sophie agreed, saying she can do a “duck dive” without fear.

Others weren’t quite so upbeat. Surfrider founder Glenn Henning angrily denounced what he sees as a shift in local attitude toward novices and nonresidents. “Bad vibes,” he snipped, “that’s the biggest pollution in Malibu.”

Luckily, the day kicked off with Chumash Indians hosting a ceremonial “Surfer’s Healing Circle.” Perhaps a little sage might go a long way.

Despite some tough talk, it wasn’t easy to put a damper on this crowd. The shindig featured surf goodies galore. Silent auction items included a super custom 9-foot-long board with the starting bid of $200 placed by none other than Gidget (Kathy Kohner Zuckerman) herself. Other clean water fans made the rounds sipping Twin Fin pinot grigio and snapping up ocean atlases, surf videos, surf lessons and one-of-a-kind art.

Topanga tile maker Matt Doolin showed off his talents with a magnificent 30-piece ceramic panel capturing the beauty of the Malibu Pier. “It’s hand pressed and hand painted,” Doolin explained. “I did something similar for Topanga Days and I figured if it could benefit the community somehow that would be great.”

As the sun went down, surfers and their supporters tucked into a casual beachside buffet. Dinner was followed by the announcement of this year’s Making Waves award winners who were thanked for their efforts to keep sewage off the beach and create a healthy, clean ocean environment.

The evening wrapped up with a few folksy musical numbers courtesy of White Buffalo-just enough to keep everyone stoked until next year.