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Legends of Surfing Invitational nets $500K without signature luau

The "Legends of Surfing" at the 2021 Luau and Legends of Surfing Invitational
(Courtesy of Luau and Legends of Surfing Invitational)

While the 28th annual Luau and Legends of Surfing Invitational looked a bit different this year, the event still raised $500,000 for Moores Cancer Center at UC San Diego on Aug. 15. The event brings together surf teams made up of a “surfing legend” and four representatives from local research companies, who also surf.

The surf contest proceeded as usual, but the accompanying luau was cancelled to discourage large gatherings in accordance with COVID-19 related precautions. Those that participated in the surf competition had to be fully vaccinated or provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test.

For the record:

10:52 a.m. Aug. 24, 2021This article was updated to correct the spellings of Cymer, ASML and the last name of Nicole and Chris Wittak.

The fundraiser raises discretionary money for Moores Cancer Center “that allows them to pinpoint and fund projects that are in need of help at any given time,” said event founder Sam Armstrong. “Having these funds … that aren’t locked in allows these researchers to run with these projects. Numerous things have come from these funds.”

This year’s surf contest raised $500,000, a portion of which from the auctioning of a custom surfboard made for the occasion, which sold for $20,000.

The surfboard was made by renowned board-maker Steve Walden and featured hearts as drawn by surfer Fernando Aguerre, who has advocated for getting surfing into the Olympics for more than 20 years. The hearts were configured to resemble the five Olympic rings.

The event also honored Aguerre for his role in recognizing surfing as an Olympic sport.

“This was the first place he got the recognition he deserves,” Armstrong said. “The luau has been going on for 28 years and has raised more than $10 million, but we had the sense of having an event. He went 28 years without having that feeling of an event. So we wanted to honor him.”

Surfing made its debut at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics at Tsurigasaki beach outside of the host city. In this year’s Olympic games, there were initial rounds with four- and five-person heats and main rounds with two-person heats. According to the Olympics, “each athlete [was allowed to] ride a maximum of 25 waves, and their two highest scoring waves will count towards their heat total, which creates their heat result.”

At the local Surfing Invitational, the winning team came from the Cymer division of research company ASML. The team was composed of pro surfer Dane Perlee and Cymer representatives Nicole Wittak, Matthew Graham, Michael Parker and Chris Wittak.

Learn more at luaulegendsofsurfing.org.

Surfboard maker Steve Walden presents a custom surfboard to be auctioned off
(Courtesy Luau and Legends of Surfing Invitational)
Surfer Guy Takayama rides a small wave
(Courtesy of Luau and Legends of Surfing Invitational
)
Patty Maysent, chief executive of UC San Diego Health, also a surf competitor, said a few words to those gathered.
Patty Maysent, chief executive of UC San Diego Health, also a surf competitor, said a few words to those gathered.
(Courtesy of Luau and Legends of Surfing Invitational)
Surfer Buzzy Kerbox, with Rachel Propper and Fernando Aguerre
(Courtesy of Luau and Legends of Surfing Invitational)