The Dawn Patrol: Surfrider 20 Years Ago By Glenn Hening (Note: the abridged version of this article appeared in SURFERS JOURNAL Vol 13 #3. My thanks to Pez and Scott for taking printing the story back in 2004 on Surfrider’s 20th anniversary – and my thanks to Pez for getting me into the big birthday event at Sony Studios that year. My name wasn’t on the list. GH) * * * 01 - The Soul Survivors vs. Day Glo and Trade Shows Surfrider‟s ancestry can be traced back to Santa Monica Canyon, near Los Angeles. The canyon is a unique place with its own climate and a creative community. Even where it meets the sea is special, where reefs and sandbars made State Beach different than any other break from Point Dume to Palos Verdes. State Beach was home to some colorful surfers in its time, including Miki Dora and Marty Sugarman. In the mid-60s we grew up surfing in their shadows, and when shortboards came on strong we began to call ourselves the Canyon Rats. In our time we threw mad parties, circled the globe for surf, and generally got away with whatever we wanted to for about fifteen years. But by late 1983 we found ourselves scurrying about trying to make ends meet. Gone was the spirit, the youth, and the adventure of the Rats in their prime as jobs, marriages and mortgages were taking their toll. One brisk winter evening, with offshores whistling in the sycamores, most of the original crew got together for a reunion of sorts. The meeting came to order when “Exile On Main Street”, the double album national anthem of the Rats, kicked in with “Rocks Off”. Tales were told from the seven seas, and after an hour or so the talk turned to what surfing was becoming. A quick look at the surf mags said it all, and it had nothing to do with us. It was the day-glo era, with pro surfers signing deals with the devils and trade show kings selling their way to lifestyles of the rich and famous. But were we not also surfers? And with Miki long gone, why not aspire to pick up the mantle of surfing‟s famous angry man? “I know,” said one unusually coherent attendee (who had arrived late and had some catching up to do), “Let's put together a surf club of amateur gentlemen.” Sure, why not? After all, we were the Rats! We could do anything we wanted! “Ok, what are the membership requirements?” “No pro surfers!” “No day-glo wetsuits!‟ “No leashes!” The ideas flew across the smoke filled room. „What about Riddle?” “Ok, we‟ll make an exception for J. But you have to make a living outside the surf industry and you had to be a good surfer before leashes.”
“We‟ll be a service club of surfers! Like the Kiwanis or something, but with less gin and more kef!” “Done!” The vote was unanimous. We caught our breath, and a second wind from Morocco, and off we went again. “Do you think that will be enough to turn surfing completely around?” “Well, how about we‟ll do a film, too? Show the real soul of surfing!” “Didn‟t they already do that in „Endless Summer‟?” “Well, look where that got us. No, its time to take surfing seriously – we‟ll call it „Summer‟s Over‟. It will be like a Cousteau film, - - -“ “All Down the Line” was charging through the speakers. “With a kickass soundtrack!” “Where will we get the money?” “Just like Cousteau: memberships in our non-profit society!” Now we got really excited imagining the surfing world through our eyes the way Cousteau had seen the undersea world. We all had our visions from coastlines around the planet and now we wanted to share that energy by channeling the best of surfing to others instead of making a buck off it. Finally someone asked, “Well, so what are we gonna call this organization?” Just then the last track of the album started up, and the Stones came in right on time with a perfect inspiration. We all looked at each other and shouted, “The Soul Survivors!” Well, by closing time we had the Society of Soul Survivors pretty much ready to go. And though talk was cheap and everyone needed some sleep, some of us got up the next day on a dawn patrol mission to turn those late night ideas into a new version of riding waves.
02 – The Birth of a Baby and The Impala’s Opinions It was 4:44 a.m, January 11, 1984, and the delivery room felt like it was full of angels witnessing a blessed event. In my arms rested a tiny baby girl, and though my wife Alexa was exhausted, she couldn‟t have been happier as I handed her our first-born daughter. A few hours later, with mother sleeping soundly, I went to see our daughter in the observation room. There she was, bundled up and resting with a slight smile on her face. And suddenly, like an outside set looming on the horizon, the future came into sharp focus. Yet, I didn‟t feel caught inside by any means. I felt ready for fatherhood and looking forward to the challenge. Was I not a surfer? But then my thoughts turned to what surfing would be for Helen Grace when she grew up – and what would it be for her generation. I thought about that night and a future for surfing that we had dreamed about so vividly. Ok, maybe I better take the idea of a new society of surfers seriously – or else what will I say if someday she asks me, “Daddy, why didn‟t you do something?” But was there really a problem? Did surfing need a wakeup call? * * * “The surf magazines? I’d rather read Time or Newsweek,” said the Impala. With my wife‟s grudging permission, I took a much-needed vacation in March from my computer business to visit an old El Salvador comrade-in-arms, Doug Haigh, living on Kauai. With my best man Victor Torres riding shotgun, we rented a Chevy Malibu station wagon at the Lihue airport and began three weeks of casual cruising around the Garden Isle. We surfed anywhere and everywhere and we were welcomed from Majors to Tunnels. But the best days occurred at the longest and most challenging reef break I‟ve ever ridden. It was an all-time surf trip, but one that was put in new perspective thanks to that night in the Canyon and the birth of my daughter. I had been canvassing friends up and down the California coast as to their take on modern surfing. To a man they were not stoked. Now I wanted to get the opinion of someone who had surfed waves beyond the comprehension of most surfers. I wanted to talk to a living legend known as the Impala, a surfer second only to Joey Cabell as the best ever at Hanalei Bay. I put out the word, and one day I got a call from Jimmy Lucas. We met down at the pier, and for about 45 minutes he told me of the winter of 1969 and all his years racing through Waimea-size tunnels that peeled for half a mile. Then I asked him for his opinions on modern surfing, and it wasn‟t a pleasant subject. Here was one of the best surfers in history telling me that he wasn‟t stoked by any means, And when I said goodbye to the Impala, I knew that when I got back to California something had to be done.
03 – In the Shadow of the Torch When the Olympics hit L.A. in the summer of 1984, I managed to get tickets to halfa-dozen „low demand‟ events, such as boxing, dressage, fencing and soccer. But as luck would have it, two tickets turned up for track-and-field in the Coliseum, and though they were a bit expensive, I had to have them. Something told me to take advantage of a oncein-a-lifetime afternoon. Four months after my trip to Kauai, my passion for pulling off a landmark idea about the future of surfing had not dimmed. Reality demanded I come up with a new name, and so I thought I could get some instant respectability through the use of the word “foundation.” And then one day I was driving past the Surfrider Inn in Santa Monica, the place where I first saw the Pacific Ocean when we moved out here in 1959 from New York. That was it! The Surfrider Foundation! Should work better than the Soul Survivors! Now, I‟d done a fair amount of research into the Cousteau Society and National Geographic: how they were structured, the membership process, etc. To say I had delusion of grandeur would be an understatement, but with the Olympics in town, who could blame me? The Games of the Olympiad – was a perfect point of departure for what I wanted for surfing‟s future, and I took full advantage of the opportunity. So we were sitting in the top row of the Coliseum taking a break from the action. L.J. Woods was with me: old friend, world traveler, and a ring-leader of the Canyon Rats. We‟d watched Evelyn Ashford win the 100, Daly Thompson take the decathalon, and dozens of other track and field athletes from around the world compete in their specialties. And the question was, how did surfing measure up to this most grand endeavor of the human spirit? I pulled out a spiral notebook and a pen, and with the colors and spectacle of the Games to inspire us, we asked ourselves, “What could we do as surfers that would be as bitchen as all this?” Soon the ideas started flying: surf schools, scholarships, apprentice programs, team competitions, travel clubs, wave preserves, new surfboard materials, a National Geographic-style magazine, and of course, our brainstorm from last fall, the film “Summer‟s Over.” We took a breath, and I looked out over L.A., specifically, South-Central, and suddenly it hit me. “You know L.J., I think the most unreal thing we could do would be to try to share surfing with inner city kids. That would really blow away the surf media!” “Yeah, but Hen, the surf is already too crowded!” Another bolt of inspiration: „Well, why don‟t we start building surfing parks? Let‟s create new places to surf!” Now we knew we were finally up to speed: if we really wanted to change the surfing world, we would have our work cut out for us. But so what? After all, we were surfers, and we were not in the habit of taking no for an answer.
04 – “Who Do We Know With a Big Name?” The Olympics were over, but L.J. and I were only gathering momentum. We had come up with some big ideas, but now it was time to make it happen. We knew we would need some name recognition to catch the attention of the surfing world, but we didn‟t know any surf stars. “Wait a sec,” said L.J., “What about Lance Carson? He‟s still living in the Palisades!” Through another old friend, Keith Goldsmith, I was able to track him down, and we met at Keith's house one night after the legend of Malibu got off work hanging drywall in Keith's West LA office. I explained what we were up to and why. "Sure, I'll help. As long as I don't have to go to any meetings," said Lance. “But you know, maybe you can do something right away about what‟s happening at Malibu.” “What‟s the problem?” “State Parks guys are destroying first point. I tried to stop them, but they just ignored me. They took down the 'Surfrider Beach' sign and changed the name of the place to Malibu Lagoon State Park. They carved up the lagoon, and when it starts to overflow, they bulldoze a channel straight towards the pier. The outflow gouges a channel across the bottom and the shape has been completely ruined. And these State Parks guys could care less." "Well, let's do something about it. If we‟re going to change the future of surfing, we‟d better make sure it has a future!" "Yeah, you want to call a guy named Tom Pratte. He has some ideas, and he's been trying to get something going."
05 – “My Typewriter Works Just Fine” It was a week after my meeting with Lance Carson, and I was in the "office" of Tom Pratte, at his parents‟ home in Huntington Beach. He had just graduated with the firstever major in Environmental Studies with Coastal Emphasis at Humboldt State University. He was soft-spoken but direct, and his room was filled with binders and files covering threats to the surfing environment from Crescent City to Imperial Beach. He was on retainer to the WSA for three grand a year as their environmental issues advisor. But he was umpiring softball games to make ends meet, and he was interested in my idea for a non-profit organization. I had brought my brand new Macintosh along, and I thought I was pretty together as I brought up screen after screen outlining my ideas. But Tom was not impressed. He had Robert Johnson records next to his guitar. “But, well, I don't think I like computers. My typewriter works just fine, so I won't have to use this thing will I?" "No, you won't have to use the computer. But if the Surfrider Foundation is to become what I have in mind, you will have to be a part of making a real statement about the responsibilities of surfers to future generations." "Ok, I'll help, but is it ok if I don't quit the WSA gig right away? If Surfrider flops, I don't want to be left hanging." "Sure, that's ok. Now tell me about the situation at Malibu, and what we can do about it." At the time, I thought I was pretty data-intensive as a computer programmer, but Tom Pratte blew me away. He had Coastal Commission documents, State Parks blue prints, Coastal Act sections, transcripts, and just about every official document existent relating to the situation. But it had been an uphill battle so far because as far as the State was concerned, surfing at Malibu was nothing but a nuisance that deserved no respect. Now I knew inner city programs and surfing parks were long-term ideas, not to mention a film and surfing preserves. But what about preserving what we had right now? I quickly realized that with Lance on board as a guiding figurehead and Tom's encyclopedic grasp of the issues, defending Malibu would be an important first step towards creating an organization that could directly affect surfing‟s future – which was the whole point to begin with. And so a fateful step was taken that afternoon in Tom‟s office as we began to discuss an organization with critical environmental priorities. It was a long way from the dreams of the Canyon Rats, but Malibu was being ruined, and something had to be done.
06 - Filling Out The Team By early August, I was fully committed to establishing something completely new in the world of surfing. It wasn‟t “The Soul Survivors” to be sure, but with the emergency at Malibu and Tom Pratte‟s environmental leadership crying out for support, the Surfrider Foundation was going to be something special. However, one idea would not die from that early brainstorming session: making a film. And that led me to Chris Blakely. Chris was in the middle of producing a film about the seminal L.A. band, “X”. He worked in the same building as my computer mentor, George Madarasz, who introduced us. Chris was a serious bodysurfer on a year-round basis, and he was stoked to hear about Surfrider‟s environmental priorities. At the same time, he really liked the concept of “Summer‟s Over” as a film to replace „The Endless Summer”. So he agreed to be on the founding board with more of an emphasis on producing the film than environmental activism. “But I know someone who will really help us lot,” he said. “You‟ll have to meet Dan Young.” Next thing I know, I‟m talking to a guy who had almost the exact same instincts as Tom, had wrote a serious letter to SURFER about what was happening to Malibu, and had even given some thought to starting an organization himself. Dan Young was completely sold on the idea of Surfrider from the moment I met him. He was working in the office of the Public Justice Foundation, whose founder, Tim Flynn, was a lawyer who could help us with the articles of incorporation. At this point I was beginning to feel like Yul Brynner in “The Magnificent Seven”, and I felt we needed one more gun to round out the team. And I knew exactly who to call. Steve Merrill was an old friend from my years in El Salvador, and we stayed in touch after I moved back to Pasadena in 1981 to escape the civil war down there. When I broached the idea of Surfrider, he made an immediate contribution by suggesting we build something charitable into the organization right away; the Baja Assistance Program. Steve had been making trips south of the border for years, and he had often loaded up his truck with toys, tools, and clothes to drop off at the main church in Ensenada. I was really excited by the idea that the Baja Assistance Program would help establish Surfrider as a new version of surfers taking responsibility in more ways than one. What a team: Woods, Carson, Pratte, Blakely, Young and Merrill. There was only thing left to determine: who would actually sign the documents that made the whole thing real?
07 - “Where do I sign?” It was one thing to dream up a non-profit organization of surfers ready to take on the world. It was something else to make it legal. By mid-August, Surfrider was ready to go, but now it was time to file with the Feds. A quick canvas of the team sobered me up a bit. Some had wives or kids or mortgages, some were not ready to sign anything legally binding, and even Tom Pratte wanted to hedge his bets. They all wanted to be a part of Surfrider, but in the end, there was only one person left on the peak as the set approached. I had made some inquires with some lawyer friends of mine, but the money they were talking about did not make sense at all. (When does it ever when talking to a lawyer?) But Tim McFlynn, founder of the Public Justice Foundation, was a good friend of Chris and Dan, and I was able to hire him on practically a pro bono basis to prepare the articles and help us with the bylaws. After a meeting with Tim, and a long heart-to-heart with wife Alexa, I knew there was no turning back. Tom and Dan helped with some of the language in the articles of incorporation, and Tim had everything ready on August 17, 1984. I showed up early, and read the document. It was all there, though I had one question: “What does „agent for service of process” mean?” “That‟s for the IRS,” said Tim. “They need to know who is going to take full responsibility if something goes wrong.” I thought for a second back to the Canyon, to my daughter, to Lance and Tom and Malibu and the future of riding waves. Surfing had done a lot for me, and it was time to do something in return. “Where do I sign?” I replied, and a minute later, the Surfrider Foundation was born.
08 – Defending Malibu: Surfrider’s First Victory Lance, Tom and I were standing by the phone booths overlooking first point. It was getting dark, the surf was terrible, and the whole scene was quite discouraging. "I can't believe how bad a wave it is now,” I said, still wet from a quick go-out in the 3-4' slop at first point. "And what they're draining into the ocean is probably pretty dirty," said Tom. "Well, we won‟t have to worry about getting sick," said Lance sarcastically, "The place isn't worth surfing anymore anyway!" “Yeah, but we gotta do something, don‟t we?” I said. Lance and Tom both nodded. "Well, let's get 'em to the table," said Tom. "I'll request a community meeting and we'll fill the place with surfers," "Ok, I'm going back to my office in Pasadena. Tom, let me know when they'll meet with us. I'll get you a copy of the incorporation papers I signed last week. Lance, we're going to use your name in the by-laws, ok?" "Well just so long as I don‟t have to sign anything.” *** It was mid-afternoon in my office, just off Colorado Blvd in Pasadena above a recording studio. We‟d partitioned off a big space for Surfrider, and things were looking up. Steve and I had done the first Baja Assistance Program run to Mexico, Dan was looking for office space in Santa Cruz, and my secretary, Rose Maverick, was working on the by-laws. But Tom Pratte was nervous. I was on the phone to Lance, and we were trying to get out of there and beat traffic up the coast. The Malibu hearing was on for 7:30 that night. "No Lance, you don't have to say much, but you've got to come through as a legend and leader of the Malibu surfing community," I said. That was exactly the wrong thing to say and I backpedaled quickly. "No, no, I know, look, how about if I write you a speech and all you have to do is read it?" Lance was at a loss as to what would work for him, so I made it simple. “We're leaving pretty quick because we gotta stop in Santa Monica. We‟ll see you up there. Don‟t worry, we‟re surfers! We‟ll blow „em away!" I spun around and looked at the Mac. I had 20 minutes to write a speech for Lance Carson, and then we had to bail or traffic would kill us. Lance, Malibu, my learning to surf in „62 watching him and Dewey and Mickey, decades of perfect waves, no other place like it, a natural wonder, we need the place – Thank Jobs for a word processor! A page soon came out of the printer as Tom stuffed some more documents into his leather satchel. We grabbed a slide projector, a video camera, our sport coats and shoes and off we went in my‟67 VW Bus. We picked up Victor Torres and L.J.Woods and soon we were burning up PCH as if it was 8‟ and perfect. We cranked up the Allman Brothers‟ "One Way Out": we were on a mission from Kahuna! ***
The meeting was at the Pt. Dume elementary school auditorium. Thanks to Tom and Lance, a complete cross section of the Malibu surfing community was waiting to get in: old timers from out of the woodwork, gremmies, young couples with kids, hot surfers, etc. Before the meeting started, Tom went over and talked to the State Parks officials. The suits were a bit surprised at the crowd, and as Tom sat down he said, "You know, I think they're scared that all these surfers might riot or something if they don't get what they want." First came the presentation from the superintendent of the new park. Lance hated the guy, and for good reason. The first time the bulldozer started carving towards the point, Lance went up and tried to explain that what they were doing might ruin the wave. The ranger‟s response to Lance‟s input? "I don‟t know who you are, but you are not part of this conversation," as the ranger continued to give instructions to the operator of the bulldozer. Lance tried to protest, and a young grem from Malibu even sat down in front of the „dozer. But the parks guy just ignored them as the D-4 fired up. Lance grabbed the grommet and pulled him out of the way, and the destruction of Malibu's first point began. So as this guy went on and on during their opening statements, Lance was steaming. This was the kind of bullshit he hated, and it showed. But there was more to come. To the stage came an engineer who proceeded to explain, from blueprints and charts, that they had carved up the lagoon into channels in order to create "an inviting area for new park users”. He said the beach was now going to be accessed by people using the new parking lot on the other side of the creek, and that they had to drain the lagoon towards the pier so that park patrons would have as much uninterrupted beach as possible. "Yeah, but we were here first!” a local shouted. “And what about your interrupting a perfect wave?" "Yeah, and who let you guys change our beach around?" "Hey, where's the Surfrider sign?" "Who asked you guys to come into Malibu anyway?" The poor engineer was showered with shouts from the crowd. The guy running the meeting had to ask for order. The engineer finished his bit, and then began the public comment phase. "First speaker from the community, Tom Pratte from the WSA and the Surfrider Foundation." Tom made the opening presentation. He was reserved, chose his words carefully, and said nothing to overtly confront the officials who were conducting the hearing. This was part of our strategy, as was the fact that we had all signed in right when we got there so that we could hit 'em with a sequenced presentation. Tom closed by saying, "I'd like to introduce a man who has spent a lifetime at Malibu and has the respect of everyone who has ever ridden a wave at the place. His sense of protection for something he has loved since he was a kid is why we are here tonight." As Tom went on a few more sentences I handed Lance his speech. "Just read it slow - its just what you wanted," I said.
And as Lance Carson rose and walked to the front of the room, the place went wild. Everyone stood up and clapped and whistled. It could have been the opening of a surf movie at the Civic - the crowd was that amped. Coat and tie, slacks and polished loafers, it was a Lance Carson nobody had ever seen before, and it galvanized everyone in the room, except the suits, who were suddenly looking even more nervous. Lance‟s Speech
Waves are a natural wonder no different from Old Faithful or the redwood trees. They are a phenomenon that demonstrates all the laws of physics. They have a perfect parabolic shape that can be appreciated in only a very few places on earth. Surfrider Beach is one of those places here in California. Malibu is the most famous surf area in the world. Countless films and articles have tried to explain its mystique and its energy, because surfing is an art form unmatched by any other sport. I have been blessed with 35 years of going to Malibu and enjoying the natural beauty of quality waves that break like a long string of falling dominoes. I have memories of clear water, lonely afternoons, Japanese clam diggers finding food at low tide, and things I may never see again. Progress is progress, and that‟s something that can‟t be changed. I‟ve always known this, and I‟ve always said, “Well, at least the waves will never change.” But now that may no longer be true. In 1983 I was watching the winter storms change the beach as it has for centuries and I remarked to John Baker, the lifeguard at Malibu, how wonderful it is to watch the beach change, and get ready for another summer of great waves. By late spring, however, I was watching another kind of change take place. A change that nature had nothing to do with. State Park officials were instructing the county lifeguards as to where the new outlet for the lagoon park would be. The name of the beach would no longer be the Surfrider Beach but the Malibu Lagoon State Park. Since then one of the saddest things in my life has taken place, and not just for me. One of the greatest waves in the world, a surfer‟s natural wonder as special as Niagra Falls or the Grand Canyon, has been damaged. Malibu must not become a battlefield because of indifference, neglect or ignorance. We must work together to save the beach and the waves that can be found nowhere else in North America. Surfers have a special knowledge of the ocean that must be considered. And we are here tonight, students and doctors and construction workers and mothers from all over Malibu, Santa Monica and the San Fernando Valley. Our experience stretches from the early 30s on the part of some of the veteran surfers here tonight – to those young people who have discovered the wonder of surfing Malibu only in recent years. Tonight you have the opportunity to hear our statements and opinions and facts. If you consider them carefully in your decisions, we hope that you will not allow the lagoon outlet to slowly kill sealife and permanently damage or destroy one of the very best waves in the world.
When he was done, the room was dead quiet. The State Parks guy took advantage of that, and said "Next speaker, Glenn Hening, Surfrider Foundation." Well, as a high school teacher, I knew how to write a lesson plan, and the Parks guys needed some schooling about surfing. I opened with some lineup shots of the place that got the crowd hooting. Then came slides that Lance had taken from a variety of angles, before and after the Parks bulldozer had done its dirty work. Finally, I presented four slides of graphics I had done on the Mac, with Tom‟s help, culminating in a slide that showed exactly what we wanted. Now the Parks officials were in a corner, so they called for a recess. They had never expected a crowd with a lot of energy backing a coherent plan intended to stop their stupidity. I looked over at Tom, who was smiling as he watched the Parks guys go out the back door quickly. "I bet those guys are really scared now," he said. An hour and a half-later, the thing finally began to wrap up. Everyone in the room had signed the speaker's request list, and though some didn't know quite what to say, they knew that they didn't want Malibu ruined, and that was that. Voice after impassioned voice was heard as dozens of people spoke of what a special place Malibu was to them and how they were not going to stand for the destruction of such a great wave. Mysto George capped it off, talking about his decades at Malibu, and when he was done, the State Parks guy spoke. “That concludes the public input section of our meeting. We want to thank you for your participation in this community hearing, and be advised that your input will be given careful consideration at our next managers meeting." 'Fuck that - are you going to keep wrecking the place or what?" It was LJ Woods leveling with the suits. Suddenly the crowd grew restive, and the Parks guy picked up the vibe immediately. "Thanks to the presentations made here tonight, we certainly will make every effort to respond to the community's demands, er I mean requests. Meeting adjourned." "We won!" Tom Pratte whispered to me. He knew the bureaucrats‟ code when it came to admitting defeat. There was no cheer, just a lot of mystified people who had never been to something like this before. Even Lance didn‟t quite know what to think. They were expecting something, but just what had happened? As we took down the AV stuff, Tom Pratte was stoked. Some people asked him what happened, and he said simply, "We scared the shit out of them. They'll do exactly what we want. They don't want angry surfers laying down in front of bulldozers. That's what they think we're all about after this meeting." As we drove back down PCH, Victor said, "You know I've ridden Malibu for years, But coming home tonight feels like we just got it better than ever." Tom Pratte was exhausted but happy. Then he frowned. "I've got to go to Diego tomorrow. The Army Corps wants to build a breakwater at Imperial Beach. But Kampion is gonna mention us in SURFING, and maybe Pez can give us an ad in SURFER." "Well, the IRS has our application as of yesterday, Tom," I said. „The Surfrider Foundation is for real – as of tonight.”
09 – Postscript: January 28, 1986 I was late to work at JPL and went to the cafeteria to get some coffee. The place was eerily empty. NASA internal TV monitors were on around the room, but all they showed was a flat ocean with splashes occurring now and then. I didn‟t quite know what was going on, so I asked someone how the launch went. He just shook his head and walked away. Soon enough the Challenger disaster had my full attention, and the ripple effects blew my world apart both at home and work. By March I was unable to function as president of the Foundation, and by June my marriage was on the rocks after getting laid off with 600 others at JPL. Like a booster rocket, I was out of fuel, both professionally and personally. It was time for me to fall back into the sea after getting the mission off the ground. Chris Blakely picked up the slack for me, though Tom really took over running the organization from that point on. Thanks to him, Rob Caughlan became president in the November elections. Rob was a great choice, and the Foundation owes him, and everyone on the board at the time, a real debt of gratitude for getting Surfrider through its first crisis. A few months later, Steve Merrill came to my house in Los Osos, where I‟d moved in order to re-center my life around surfing, specifically Hazard Canyon. “Here you go, Hen, the board wanted you to have this.” I opened the package, and I stood there feeling like an old warhorse being put out to pasture. They‟d given me a plaque.