A swell history: Windansea Surf Club celebrates 60 years in La Jolla as ‘surfers that serve’

Windansea Surf Club's new president and vice president, Marnie Cheney and Nathan Jernigan
The Windansea Surf Club’s new president and vice president, Marnie Cheney and Nathan Jernigan, are taking the organization into the future while celebrating its 60-year history.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

Competition, fun and community service are all part of the club’s mission.


Members of the Windansea Surf Club in La Jolla are looking back at its first six decades and riding a wave of new leadership into the future.

“I get excited thinking about it,” club President Marnie Cheney said.

Cheney took on her role in January after Bill Fitzmaurice, the president since 2018, stepped down to spend more time with family and caring for his health after a decade on the club’s board of directors.

“It’s time for a change,” Fitzmaurice said. “It’s been an honor and a real privilege to serve.”

Cheney will “bring great things to the community,” he said. “She’s part of the fabric of Windansea.”

“We were ready for a woman to step up,” said Cheney, the club’s second female president after Tifani Swink, daughter of veteran surfer Butch Van Artsdalen, held the role in 2007.

Cheney is now one of three women on the seven-person board.

“I’m excited to see the women participate … in leadership,” said new club Vice President Nathan Jernigan.

Cheney, a fourth-generation Windansea Surf Club member (her children are fifth-generation), was born and raised in the neighborhood.

“It’s my time,” she said.

She added that she has goals as president but isn’t ready to reveal them yet. “We have surprises.”

Celebrating 60

Cheney and the rest of the club leaders are making plans to honor the group’s 60th anniversary, starting with a fundraiser the evening of Friday, May 5, at Duke’s La Jolla, 1216 Prospect St.

The event will raise money for three upcoming “Days at the Beach,” which offer underprivileged youths and others a chance to learn about surfing and beach preservation.

The club, which currently has about 300 members, also will mark the anniversary at the final surf competition of the year in November.

Competition and community

Members of the Windansea Surf Club pose in Malibu in 1963, shortly after the club was formed.
(Windansea Surf Club)

The mix of surf competition and community service has always been integral to the club’s mission.

“We’re surfers that serve,” Jernigan said. “It’s not just about our coalition competition event, which is huge. ... But we have a huge presence in La Jolla in community activism.”

Jernigan noted that many third- and fourth-generation surf club members are involved in service projects.

“We have deep roots,” he said.

Cheney said club members are “all about having fun and being a part of the community,” from conducting beach cleanups to presenting the Menehune Surf Contest in October and helping at Kiwanis Club of La Jolla’s half marathon and other events.

Board member Chip Hasley, a former club president and son of co-founder Chuck Hasley, said the club was formed in 1963 by his now-late father, along with Bill Caster, Skip Frye and Mike Hynson.

The four wanted to enter a surf contest in Malibu but could enter only as an established organization. So the Windansea Surf Club was born.

“They won five of the six first individual show trophies and … the club competition,” Chip Hasley said.

The club quickly became dual-purpose and gained nonprofit status in 1965, beginning to take on charity and outreach work, he said.

“We’re a good community member. We touch so many lives. … We are a tribe.”

— Bill Fitzmaurice, former club president

Exposing underprivileged children “to something that we get to do anytime we want to” and promoting a love for the ocean resonated with Hasley.

“[It] made me realize that giving back is more important than getting stuff,” he said.

That the club balances competition with the “softer side of community service” is very important, Fitzmaurice said. “The club is bigger than one individual.”

The club is part of the local culture, Fitzmaurice said. “We’re a good community member. We touch so many lives. … We are a tribe.”

Barreling into the future

The longevity of the Windansea Surf Club “comes down to who we are, where we’re from,” Jernigan said. “We love to have fun. But more importantly, we’re so fortunate to be able to give back.”

“It’s unlimited, the potential we can accomplish right now,” he said. “The stoke is there.”

Cheney said the COVID-19 pandemic carved into a lot of members’ participation, but she’s happy to see new and old members motivated to re-engage.

Hasley said the club thrives by continually adding young members who benefit from mentoring by existing members.

“It’s just kind of diversified into touching people in a lot of different ways,” he added.

For more information about the Windansea Surf Club or its events, visit