Waterman’s Ball To Honor Bud Browne And Donna Frye

SIMA’s 12th Annual Waterman’s Ball will be held at the new St. Regis Hotel in Dana Point, Calif. on Saturday, August 4. Pioneering surf filmmaker Bud Browne will be awarded the 2001 Waterman Achievement Award for contributions to the sport, while Donna Frye will be named Environmentalist of the Year. Participants in the recent Cortez Banks big wave expedition will receive special recognition.

Nearly 900 Waterman’s Ball attendees will raise funds for environmental beneficiaries through ticket sales, advertising space in the Waterman’s Ball Planning Calendar, plus silent and live auctions. The event attracts celebrities ranging from Hollywood stars to surf industry executives and professional athletes. Additional funding will be raised via a companion golf tournament on Friday, August 3 (details forthcoming).

Last year’s sold-out Waterman’s Ball, held at the Ritz Carlton, hosted more than 800 guests and raised nearly $200,000 for the environment, boosting the 10-year donation tally to approximately 1.5 million dollars. Beneficiaries included American Ocean’s Campaign, Surfrider Foundation, Ocean Institute, Hidden Harbor Marine Environmental Project (Turtle Hospital), Heal the Bay and the Alaska Wilderness Project.

Waterman Achievement honoree Browne saw surfing through more than his eyes, he saw the sport through his camera lens. The creator of 15 surfing films, he was the first filmmaker to commercially show surf movies. A bodysurfer who combined his photographic talent with the sport he loved, Browne entertained the surfing world from the 1950’s to the 1980’s with his movies on surfing.

“Whatever surfing is and/or has been perceived to be, it is mostly an ethereal activity that leaves little trace of having happened at all,” said Steve Pezman, Surfer’s Journal publisher. “In early years, tales of the sport’s colorful legends and lore were passed along via word of mouth, until a tall, lanky, soft spoken man with great skills in the water himself, decided to film surfing and share his results with others who loved it as he did.

“Thus, the traveling surf movie was born and the thrill of the ride spread to ‘legions of the unstoked’, and others joined in, and in the space of a few short years a curious and eccentric sport of hundreds had grown into a worldwide lifestyle practiced by millions. That sums up the influence of Bud Browne.”

Film credits include: Hawaiian Surfing Movie (1953), Hawaiian Holiday (54), Hawaiian Surf Movie (55), Trek to Makaha (56), The Big Surf (57), Surf Down Under (58), Cat on a Hot Foam Board (59), Surf Happy (60), Spinning Boards (61), Cavalcade of Surf (62), Gun Ho! (63), Locked In (64), You’ll Dance in Tahiti (67) and Going Surfin’ (73). Recently Browne edited 70 minutes of old surf footage, added a sound track, and released a video called Surfing in the 50’s.

In his 80’s, Bud still bodysurfs and swims several times a week to keep in shape. He joins an elite group of past Waterman Achievement Award recipients, including Jack O’Neill (2000), Gerry Lopez (1999), Greg Noll (1998), John Severson (1997), Rell Sunn (1996), Walter Hoffman (1995), Bruce Brown (1994) and Hobie Alter (1993).

Environmentalist recipient Donna Frye has been a tireless grassroots environmental advocate and organizer for the past 35 years. Wife of surfboard shaper Skip Frye, Donna has worked relentlessly on behalf of her San Diego, Calif. community through involvement in myriad local activities.

Frye founded Surfers Tired of Pollution (STOP), a group dedicated to preventing exploitation of the ocean and other natural resources. Additionally, she has been appointed to several environmental committees, including San Diego’s Clean Water Task Force, the Environmental Health Advisory Board, and the Center for Marine Conservation.

“The profound effects of Donna’s perseverance, love of the ocean, wit and humor have educated and inspired people at all levels of society and government to keep our beaches and politics clean,” said Waterman’s Ball Board Member Michael Marckx. “I know of no other person anywhere who has worked as long, effectively and passionately to secure economically sound solutions to protect, preserve and improve our quality of life.”

Mike Parsons, Peter Mel, Ken Collins and Brad Gerlach will receive special recognition for conquering 60-foot waves at Cortes Banks, 100 miles off the Orange County, Calif. coastline in mid January. The historic expedition was, according to SIMA Vice President Scott Daley, “A heroic and life threatening challenge.”

The Waterman’s Ball begins at 6:00 p.m. and dress is, according to SIMA Executive Director Kelly Macrides, “Black tie optional, but creative fashion statements are encouraged.” Reserved seating tickets are $175.00 per person and may only be purchased in advance of the event. For ticket information, call SIMA at (949) 248-7485. For media information call Mike Kingsbury, MKM, at (714) 375-2188.