2017 Waterman’s Ball honors Bethany Hamilton, Herbie Fletcher, Cyrill Gutsch

The 2017 Waterman’s Ball kicked off at The Ranch in Laguna Beach, California Saturday evening for a night of auctions, great food, great people and a stacked lineup of honorees.

The 2017 Waterman’s Ball at the Ranch in Laguna Beach. Photo: Perino

The 28th annual Waterman’s weekend was a two-day fundraising event, including a Waterman’s Golf Tournament. All proceeds go to 19 different environmental organizations in the form of Surf Industry Manufacturers Association (SIMA) Environmental Fund grants.

Gerry Lopez and friends at the 2017 Waterman’s Ball. Photo: Perino

The turnout was fantastic, as the evening kicked off with a silent auction of surfboards, surf gear, one-of-a-kind artwork and much more.

There were plenty of new boards for auction at the 2017 Waterman’s Ball. Photo: Perino

As the evening progressed, all attendees took their seats on the fairway of the golf course for dinner, drinks, a live auction and the awards ceremony.

The artwork up for auction was amazing. Photo: Perino

Up for bidding during the live auction were some arguably priceless pieces of surf memorabilia, vacation packages and even a brand new 2018 Audi A3 e-tron.

As soon as the bidding got underway, the excitement began and bid cards went flying into the air.

The live auction brought in thousands of dollars for a good cause. Photo: Perino

Along with many other items, the auction brought in $7,000 for a vintage 1976 Herbie Fletcher “Counter Balance” surfboard, $10,000 for an all-inclusive trip to Tavarua, $34,000 for the Audi A3 e-tron, as well as an extremely rare original oil painting “Surf Angels” by the late John Severson that fetched $7,000.

SIMA Environmental Fund President, Paul Naude kicking off the evening festivities. Photo: Perino

The auctioneer even received two $10,000 donations from two separate attendees, right out of the gate.

However, it was the honorees that really stole the show at the Waterman’s Ball Saturday evening. Here are the remarkable individuals that took home awards:

Herbie Fletcher — Lifetime Achievement Award

The legend, Herbie Fletcher giving his acceptance speech at the 2017 Waterman’s Ball. Photo: Perino

Legendary surfer Herbie Fletcher received the Lifetime Achievement Award for his resounding impact on surfing and the surf industry.

From the invention of the surfboard traction pad and the founding of Astrodeck, to his experimentation with tow-in surfing in Hawaii, Fletcher has certainly changed the game in surfing more than a few times.

“It’s been a really great ride,” Fletcher said during his acceptance speech. “I can’t explain how this happened, it just happened … it’s unexplainable. [Laughs]”

“I’m a visionary guy,” Fletcher continued. “That’s what it’s about, going surfing and keeping the stoke.”

Cyrill Gutsch — Environmentalist of the Year

Cyrill Gutsch accepting his award from big-wave surfer Greg Long. Photo: Perino

Founder of Parley for the Oceans, Cyrill Gutsch took the stage to receive the Environmentalist of the Year award.

With his massive impact on ocean conservation, Gutsch dedicates much of his life to doing whatever he can to keep our oceans healthy and free of plastic waste. While accepting his award, Gutsch touched upon his love for the ocean.

“[As a kid] My parents didn’t have the money to bring me to the ocean, and I wanted to go to the sea,” Gutsch said. “When I was 18, I drove to the south of France and then to Portugal, and when I arrived there I spent hours at the beach. And it was that place where I stopped thinking … it was one place where there was peace.”

“You need to own change, especially in a time you feel that you can’t afford it,” Gutsch continued. “There is a huge huge huge wave coming. And this wave, this change, will change everything we know … we cannot afford anymore to have materials that harm our environment. And the laws will come.”

Bethany Hamilton — Waterman of the Year

Bethany Hamilton giving a very heart-felt speech after accepting her award as Waterman of Year. Photo: Perino

Bethany Hamilton is one of the most inspirational people on the planet. And this year at the Waterman’s Ball, Hamilton was the recipient the Waterman of the Year award.

Her story is one of overcoming the most extreme obstacles, however, the presenter of this year’s award, pastor Sumo Sato, made it clear that Bethany’s achievements are much more than that.

“Everybody knows her story,” Sato said before presenting Hamilton with her award. “She’s touched millions across the world. She’s done what no other surfer really has done … and it’s just simple Bethany. She is so real … she looks at the world with different filters.”

“I’d way rather lose my arm than [lose] surfing,” Hamilton said on stage. “It’s had its hard parts, of course, but it’s only made me stronger … it just makes life that much sweeter when we can get back to doing what we love.”

Fernando Aguerre — Special Recognition Award

Aguerre giving his speech after accepting his Special Recognition award. Photo: Perino

For his tireless efforts involved with getting surfing into the Olympics, President of the International Surfing Association (ISA) Fernando Aguerre was awarded the Special Recognition Award.

“Thank you for this honor,” Aguerre said. “I’m never going to stop. [Laughs]. Paris and L.A. just got approved … We will be sure to have Olympic surfing in ’24 and ’28. Olympic surfing will amplify our message … the message of peace through surfing.”

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