If an employee or student is missing on Sept. 20, you might want to look for signs theyve been surfing: sandy feet, the smell of surf wax, or salt water dripping from their noses.
In fact, they may have a state-recognized excuse for their absence: California Surfing Day is now, officially, a thing.
A group of dignitaries and surfers gathered on the Huntington Beach Pier on Tuesday to proclaim “California Surfing Day,” which recently passed both the Assembly and Senate as a resolution (SCR 122).
Griffin Colapinto of San Clemente surfs along with other pro surfers and with U.S. Olympic athletes as they ride the waves together for the first time during a fun Olympic exhibition at Lower Trestles at San Onofre State Beach on Wednesday, June 20, 2018, during a break in the USA Surfing Championships. (Photo by Mark Rightmire, Orange County Register/SCNG)
Jericho Poppler, the first US womens world champion surfer, is depicted on a surfboard logo for California Surfing Day. (Photo by Laylan Connelly, Orange County Register/SCNG)
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International Surfing Museum executive director Diana Dehm stands at the podium next to State Senator Janet Nguyen to announce California Surfing Day. (Photo by Laylan Connelly, Orange County Register/SCNG)
Brodie Sale competes in the U16 division of the 2018 USA Surfing Championships at Lower Trestles in San Clemente, CA, on Monday, June 18, 2018. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)
Kolohe Andino of San Clemente tears it up on a wave during the U.S. Open of Surfing on Monday in Huntington Beach. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)
Team USAs Lakey Peterson competes in the final round during the WSL Founders Cup of Surfing at the WSL Surf Ranch in Lemoore, Calif. on Sunday May 6, 2018. (Photo by Raul Romero Jr, Contributing Photographer)
The logo for “California Surfing Day.” (Photo by Laylan Connelly, Orange County Register/SCNG)
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Diane Dehm, executive director of the International Surfing Museum in Huntington Beach, said a group of surfers rallied in Sacramento a few months ago to get the resolution passed; it received unanimous approval from the senate.
Its a way to “celebrate the heart and soul of the surfing lifestyle, riding the waves up and down the California coastline, while protecting our coastal playground – our ocean and our beaches,” Dehm told a crowd that gathered Tuesday just above where surfers were competing during the U.S. Open of Surfing.
State Senator Janet Nguyen (R-Fountain Valley) who helped bring the resolution to the senate floor, spoke to the crowd about the importance of announcing California Surfing Day in Huntington Beach.
“Theres no doubt that surfing has become part of Huntington Beachs identity, and Im personally proud to honor a sport that has given so much to our community,” Nguyen said. “Since surfing was brought to the California coast in the 19th century, the sport has transcended beyond the ocean, to impact our language, music, fashion and art.
“Surfing is a part of the social economic and coastal fabric of our state.”
There are an estimated 3.3 million surfers in the United States who spend between $1.9 and $3.3 billion each year on local surf trips, according to the news announcement: “The surfing industry, almost exclusively based in California, generates over $6 billion in United States annual retail sales.”
California is also home to several “culturally significant” surfing museums in coastal towns of Huntington Beach, Oceanside, Santa Cruz, and San Clemente.
SoCal surf craze
Huntington Beach this week plays host to the U.S. Open of Surfing, a giant competition that brings some of the worlds best surfers and draws hundreds of thousands of people throughout the nine-day event.
Surf City also stakes claim to three surfing Guinness World Records, including the largest surfing paddle-out in the world, the largest surfboard in the world combined with the most people riding a surfboard at the same time.
Other beach towns have rich surfing histories. In the South Bay, the International Surf Festival kicks off this week for beach competitions in Hermosa, Manhattan, Redondo and Torrance. Santa Cruz in Northern California, which battled Huntington Beach for years for the use of “Surf City,” is where the modern-day wetsuit was created by Jack ONeill.
Thats not to mention the countless surf breaks dotting the coastline, from iconic Malibu and the story of “Gidget” that spread the sports popularity, to the South Bays rich history and influence as the sport started to take off in the 60s. The city of Dana Point is trying to promote its significance in the surf world by recognizing icons such as Hobie Alter and Bruce Brown, whose innovations and creations changed surf culture.
Even Californias agricultural farmland is embracing the surf culture, with the Kelly Slater Surf Ranch that opened up recently with a man-made wave.
Jericho Poppler, the first U.S. womens world champion, is the woman in the depicted in the official logo shown on surfboards at the announcement. She talked about competing in Huntington Beach in 1970.
Iconic surfer Paul Strauch — the male surfer in the logo being used to promote the day — spoke to the crowd about attending the 1965 United States Surfing Championships, the predecessor to the U.S. Open of Surfing.
Strauch told the crowd about sitting next to surf legend and Olympic swimmer Duke Kahanamoku, who helped bring surfing from Hawaii to the mainland, at that event decades ago.
“Duke, see what you started?” Strauch said to the audience. “It must put a warm spot in your heart that you inspired so many people to enjoy the ocean, and leave the ocean with a smile on their faces.”
California Surfing Day is not to be confused with International Surfing Day, which happens on the third Saturday in June.
The latest resolution may not be the only government push to embrace surfing. The bill AB 1782, co-authored by Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance) and Assembly Majority Leader Ian Calderon (D-Whittier) earlier this year, proposes making surfing the official sport of the state.
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