19th Annual Waterman’s Weekend Date Set, Honorees Announced

The Surf Industry Manufacturers Association (SIMA) will honor surfing icon Mark Occhilupo as Waterman of the Year, musician Jackson Browne as Environmentalist of the Year, and surf contest pioneer Eduardo Arena with the 2008 Lifetime Achievement Award, as part of the association's annual Waterman's Weekend environmental fundraiser. Surfrider and Sierra Club's Friends of the Foothills campaign will also receive Special Recognition Awards for their ongoing battle to save Trestles. img_3659_475.jpg

The 19th Annual Waterman's Weekend will be held August 21 – 22, 2008, at The St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort & Spa in Dana Point, Calif. The weekend begins Thursday, August 21 with the Waterman's Classic Golf Tournament and culminates on Friday, August 22 with the Waterman's Ball and Auction.

The two-day fundraising event benefits the SIMA Environmental Fund, a 501(c)(3) charitable foundation that awards grants to various environmental groups based on their dedication to preserving and protecting the world's oceans, beaches and waves. Last year's event attracted more than 850 people and raised a record $500,000 for 16 ocean conservation groups. The 2008 Waterman's Weekend environmental beneficiaries and this year's fundraising goal will be announced in the coming weeks.

"Waterman's Weekend is not only a time to raise awareness and funds for the SIMA Environmental Fund Beneficiaries, but it is also a time to recognize those who have committed themselves to the progression of the sport of surfing," said SIMA President, Dick Baker.  "I am blown away by the accomplishments, sacrifices, and passion of each of our honorees.  Occy, Jackson Browne, Eduardo Arena, Surfrider, and Friends of the Foothills truly inspire our industry."

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-headshot.jpgBest described as the first to volunteer for an environmental cause and the last to seek recognition, Jackson Browne is being 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 Naude, chairman of the SIMA Environmental Fund Board of Directors 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."

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 and Friends of the Foothills will be 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.

Sponsorship packages for both the 2008 Waterman's Golf Classic and Waterman's Ball will be on sale in late May. Individual tickets for the Waterman's Ball are scheduled to go on sale in July. To reserve a sponsorship package or for more information, please contact Shannon Park, SIMA Event Coordinator by calling (949) 366-1164 x 2 or by e-mailing shannon@sima.com.

For press inquiries please contact Mandy Johnson, SIMA Communications Coordinator by calling (949) 366-1164 x 7 or by e-mailing mandy@sima.com.