Celebrating 50 Years of “The Endless Summer” with a Fundraiser and a Tribute to Bruce Brown

"The Endless Summer" 50th Annivesary
Image (c). 2014, Bruce Brown Films.

“I had a great time.”

That sums up my thoughts about attending the 50th Anniversary celebration of The Endless Summer on May 3rd, 2014, in Huntington Beach, CA. The event was both a tribute to filmmaker Bruce Brown – who received the Surfing Heritage & Culture Center (SHACC) Lifetime Achievement Award at the event – and a fundraiser. The proceeds of the fundraiser benefited SHACC and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. SHACC organized the fundraiser, and they held the event at The Waterfront Beach Resort. Fifty percent of any proceeds will go to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and the other 50% will go to SHACC. An exhibit at the event displayed artifacts related to The Endless Summer.

The evening began with a red-carpet meet and greet with “various surfing legends”, and a private viewing of The Endless Summer exhibit. The next event was a silent auction. The items to be auctioned included various types of surf gear and equipment, and The Endless Summer-related items. Since a sell-out crowd of over 450 people attended this fundraiser, the silent auction was crazy busy and crowded! Below is a photo of two of the silent auction items.

The Endless Summer 50th Anniversary Fundraiser Silent Auction
Image (c). 2014, Christian Flannery Photography.

Once the silent auction was underway, I was able to view the SHACC-curated The Endless Summer exhibit. I’ve wanted to see this exhibit since I saw photos of it at Surf Expo 2014 last January. If I remember correctly, Bruce Brown’s wife, Pat, had saved numerous “artifacts” over the years, including his cameras, lenses, tripod, the original movie poster design mock ups, and, The Endless Summer related products (sunscreen, I think). The exhibit included various versions of the iconic movie poster, as well as photos, letters, Robert August’s passport, and other items that had not yet been seen publicly.

In addition to the Brown family, R. Paul Allen, Robert August, and Keith Eshelman donated items to the collection. SHACC purchased other artifacts from the collection of David Tashjian. His dream has been to create a The Endless Summer exhibit, and he was thrilled to see it happen. Below you can see Bruce Brown looking at the camera and tripod he used to film The Endless Summer.

Filmmaker Bruce Brown, left, looks at the equipment that he used to film the surf classic “The Endless Summer.” (c). 2014, ROD VEAL , STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER, OC Register
(c). 2014, Rod Veal and The OC Register.

This is my favorite alternate movie poster that uses the iconic photo of Bruce Brown, Mike Hynson, and Robert August. It was displayed at the exhibit; below is a copy I found online. This is what happens when “Hollywood” decides their graphic artists can do better than Bruce Brown, Pat Brown, John Van Hamersveld, et. al.

The Endless Summer Movie Poster, c. 1966, Columbia Pictures
Image (c). 1966, Bruce Brown Films and Columbia Pictures.

I want to say, “Hi!” to the little surfer guy on the top of that wave, who is going to be seriously hurting in a few moments when he wipes out!

Of course, whom did I see at the exhibit but my favorite The Endless Summer star, shaper, and surfing legend, Mr. Robert August himself!

Robert August, Jewel Ward, photo by Leo Hetzel / foto hetzel, 3 May 2014, Huntington Beach, CA, The Endless Summer 50th
Image (c). 2014, Foto Hetzel/Leo Hetzel.

We all went into a ballroom for a delicious dinner. Robert “Wingnut” Weaver emceed the post-dinner events. First, the SHACC staff spoke for a few moments, and then they showed a video about Cystic Fibrosis. The video interviewed teenagers who had been diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis, and they discussed how surfing had helped them cope with the disease. (Saltwater helps clear out the lung mucus.) One of the teenagers, 13-year old Taylor Ross, spoke to the crowd. By the time she ended her speech, I doubt there was a dry eye in the house. All I can say is, I was reminded to count and be grateful for my many blessings.

The live auction began and among the first items auctioned were two replica surfboards from The Endless Summer: a Robert August Endless Summer Model and a Hobie Mike Hynson Endless Summer Model, each signed by “everyone”. I think at least one of them sold for $8,000. If I remember correctly, at least one of the boards was sold to one of the people sitting with a table of visitors from Tavarua. (I’m not sure which person bought it, but I can guess!)

Robert August The Endless Summer model and Hobie Mike Hynson The Endless Summer Model
Image (c). 2014, Jewel H. Ward.
Robert August The Endless Summer model and Hobie Mike Hynson The Endless Summer Model
Image (c). 2014, Jewel H. Ward.

Other surfboards auctioned included a Greg Noll and Mickey Dora “Da Cat” Modern Classic KOA Wood/Balsa Longboard and a John Van Hamersveld and Robert August Collaboration Art surfboard. I did not get good photos of those boards, but you can see the Noll/Dora board on the left side of the photo below, and the Collaboration Art surfboard on the right side of the second photo. (You can see a photo of a similar Collaboration Art surfboard here; Robert August and the Robert August Surf Company created this board for Surfboards on Parade.)

Greg Noll MIckey Dora Da Cat Balsa Wood Board
Image (c). 2014, Jewel H. Ward.
John van Hamersveld Robert August art collaboration board
Image (c). 2014, Jewel H. Ward.

Other items auctioned included surfing, golfing, fishing, and skiing trips, and, an Angels Legends Batting practice.

The main program began, where all the major participants in the movie discussed the movie, what was real and what was fiction, the marketing of the movie, and, the creation of the now iconic movie poster. In the photos below you can see R. Paul Allen, the film’s publicist; Robert August; Bruce Brown; and, Mike Hynson. In the next photo, you can see emcee Wingnut Weaver of The Endless Summer II; John Van Hamersveld, the movie poster graphic designer; and, Bob Bagley, former business manager at Bruce Brown Films. (Pat O’Connell from The Endless Summer II also attended the event, but he did not participate on stage. The Sandals – at least, Gaston Georis – also attended. I took this selfie with Gaston Georis at an event the night before.)

R. Paul Allen, Robert August, Bruce Brown, and Mike Hynson
Image (c). 2014, Jewel H. Ward.
Wingnut Weaver, John Van Hamersveld, and Bob Bagley
Image (c). 2014, Jewel H. Ward.

There was a moving video tribute to Pat Brown, Bruce’s wife, who died recently of cancer. She was instrumental in the creation of The Endless Summer. Again, there was hardly a dry eye in the house. Greg Noll spoke afterwards, and said that his original talk just didn’t seem right after the tribute to Pat. He gave a nice speech.

Greg Noll and Wingnut Weaver
Image (c). 2014, Jewel H. Ward.

The program ended soon after that, and we all milled around, talked, and enjoyed the after-party.

Oh, yes, I almost forgot. Below is a photo of the mystery visitor from Tavarua. Yes, Kelly Slater, 11x World Champion surfer, came to show his respect. I took this photo at the after-party, and it shows Greg Noll, Kelly Slater, Chief Druku, Bruce Brown, and Dana Brown having a fun chat.

Greg Noll, Kelly Slater, Chief Druku, Bruce Brown, and Dana Brown
Image (c). 2014, Jewel H. Ward.

I feel lucky to have been a part of Bruce Brown’s well-deserved tribute event that also raised money for two very worthwhile causes.

“It was a great evening.”

You may see more photos of the event on SHACC’s Facebook page, here and here. The Orange County Register had an article about the event here, and Surfline, here.

I would like to thank Kristen Brown, Personal Assistant to Robert August, for asking me to write this post. I’d also like to thank Barry Haun, Curator and Creative Director at SHACC, for helping me with some fact checking.

Please let me know what you think....