More than 500 surfers braved choppy water Tuesday morning to form a record-breaking circle near the Huntington Beach Pier to help raise awareness of the International Surfing Museum and promote Huntington Beach as the potential Olympic surfing village for the 2024 Summer Games, for which Los Angeles is being considered.
It took 511 surfers, to be exact, to claim the Guinness world record for largest paddle-out as they formed the Surfing Circle of Honor. Guinness adjudicator Jimmy Coggins was on hand to monitor the record on International Surfing Day.
About 60 other surfers entered the water but were unable to reach the circle just beyond the pier because of the choppy surf and strong currents.
It took about two hours for the surfers to paddle past the breakers into smoother water where they could form the circle.
Diana Dehm, the event organizer and executive director of the surfing museum on Olive Avenue, said she was overjoyed by the success of the project she had spent months putting together.
Dehm stood at the end of the pier giving orders from a megaphone to get the circle in order while hundreds of onlookers lined up to catch a glimpse of the historic feat.
A massive circle of pool noodles the surfers were supposed to hold onto drifted and eventually broke in the water, causing Dehm to make the call for the surfers to join hands instead.
As the last surfers joined together, the Huntington Beach High School band played and the crowd erupted in applause.
Several city officials were in attendance.
Mayor Barbara Delgleize said she was "stoked" that the city got to showcase why it should be the surfing village for the Summer Games. Delgleize had worked closely with Dehm for months to put on the project.
Councilman Billy O'Connell and Planning Commissioner Dan Kalmick were among those who took to the waves.
Kalmick said he's not an avid surfer and was worn out by the time he reached the end of the pier.
Jericho Poppler, the first female world surfing champion, was a team leader for the Circle of Honor. She said it showed the city's ability to put on a big event and that she thinks it will help sway officials of the Summer Games.
When the hundreds of surfers joined hands, there was an energy going through them, Poppler said.
"A feeling of love," she said.
The event was one of many Dehm has organized to raise awareness for the surfing museum, which she said has fallen on hard financial times.
Dehm has said the community has come together to support the museum since she became its executive director about a year ago. The turnout at the Circle of Honor is testament to that, she said.
This is the second time recently that Huntington Beach has entered the Guinness record book for a surfing feat. On June 21, 2015, 66 surfers broke the world record for most people to ride a longboard — a 42-foot-long, 11-foot-wide giant that itself set a record for largest surfboard.