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ASB MAGAZINE: The Surf Industry Manufacturers Association (SIMA) will honour a trio of breakthrough honourees at the 2019 Waterman’s event this August.  Amongst them former four-time world champion and surf icon (Australian) Mark Richards will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award.  Kai Lenny is to receive the Watermen of the Year and Plastic Pollution Coalition co-founder Dianna Cohen the Environmentalist of the Year. They will join an esteemed list of past Waterman’s honourees that include Kelly Slater, Eddie Vedder, Lisa Anderson, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Mick Fanning, Wayne Bartholomew, Greg Noll, Jackson Browne, Al Merrick, Bethany Hamilton and many more.

Celebrating its 30 years of environmental contribution, Waterman’s will return to the idyllic setting of The Ranch at Laguna Beach in Laguna Beach, Calif. The night serves as a gathering for leading the surf industry executives, local business leaders and surf enthusiasts. They will gather under the stars for a fun night of competing for unique silent and live auction items, enjoying great wine and gourmet food, and paying tribute to this year’s amazing honourees. All of this is in the name of raising money for some of the most impactful environmental organisations working hard to protect our oceans, beaches and waves. Since 1989, Waterman’s has raised more than $8 million to support beneficiaries that are dedicated to keeping plastics out of the ocean, overseeing beach clean-ups, protecting surf breaks from destruction and more on behalf of surfers.

Hailing from Newcastle, Mark Richards emerged in the 1970s as one of the best junior surfers in Australia, while also building a burgeoning surfboard shaping business. MR burst onto the international pro surfing scene in the winter of 1975 and that winter, along with Shaun Tomson, Rabbit Bartholomew, Ian Cairns, and Peter Townend “busted down the doors” of surfing on Hawaii’s North Shore. In 1978, he debuted one of his own surfboard designs that featured a new take on the twin-fin design that was perfect for his style. That new design would not only become the key to MR becoming a four-time world champion, but also cement Richards as a world class shaper.

Richards was thought of as unstoppable during his world title years. In 1979 he skipped four of the scheduled 13 events (two in South Africa, two in Florida), and was ranked fourth going into the World Cup in Hawaii, the final event of the year. In what would turn out to be the decade’s most thrilling title finish, the three front-runners faltered one after the other, and the 22-year-old Richards won both the World Cup and the championship. He won four of 10 events in 1980 to easily defend the title. Richards also came to be loved in the surfing world for being confident (wearing a silver wetsuit and decorating his boards with a giant Superman logo), but also humble and self-effacing.

“MR is such a unique character in the surf world and surfing wouldn’t be the same without him,” said Naude. “He was the first professional surfer to win four world titles. He not only shaped his own boards, but he’s as good a shaper as he is a surfer. And he was unmistakable out in the water, with his height and wounded gull style. There will always only be one MR!”

Waterman’s 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. Waterman’s attracts more than 500 people annually and is expected to raise more than $250,000 for 15 ocean conservation groups this year.

Sponsorship packages for the 2019 Waterman’s are on sale now. Individual tickets for Waterman’s are scheduled to go on sale in early June. For more information, please contact Shannon Park Zseleczky, SIMA Managing Director, by e-mailing