Surf contest will benefit Dane Williams Memorial Foundation

Most surf contests are just that and nothing more — a surf contest.

But there are a few that are much more.

Newport Beach surfer Tyler Gunter has been putting on a contest in Newport that benefits the Young and Brave Foundation, for children with cancer, for a few years now.

Then there’s the Dane Williams Memorial Foundation, which this Saturday at Golden West Street in Huntington Beach will host the 10th annual Dane Williams Memorial Surf Festival.

It’s a fun contest with lots of perks for the competitors, but what can’t be forgotten is the reason for the contest. On its website — — the foundation’s mission statement says this:

“The Dane Williams Memorial Foundation is dedicated to preventing sexual abuse and assisting its victims. Our mission is to educate and empower youth by providing resources and preventative tactics. Through these efforts, the family and friends of Dane are devoted to furthering his legacy and keeping his spirit alive.”

Williams story was well-chronicled at the time, but there may be some young surfers today who don’t know the story.

In January 2008, Williams, then 23, was working as an intern for Hurley when he went to San Diego for a sports retail convention. After a day at the convention, he and some buddies went to the Gaslamp Quarter for drinks.

He got separated from his friends and went missing. Three days later, they found his body wrapped in a blanket in an alley.

The case went unsolved for about a year, before homicide detectives found DNA on a rape victim that matched the DNA found on Williams and linked it to 39-year-old Philong Huynh. Huynh, whom prosecutors said targeted unsuspecting heterosexual men with the intent to drug and sexually assault them, was later found guilty and is now serving life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Dane’s parents, Jim and Valen, obviously devastated by their son’s murder, decided to do something about it, starting the Dane Williams Memorial Foundation.

The surf contest is just one of the ways they are raising money to help prevent such crimes as well as to help victims. Proceeds from the annual surf contest and other fund-raising events have gone to a variety of charities in Huntington Beach, Crime Stoppers, RAINN (Rape & Incest National Network), 1736 Family Crisis Center and Surf the Nations.

They also have worked with the American Red Cross, running a blood drive in Dane’s honor.

Jim and Valen are grateful for the community support they’ve received from sponsors like Hurley International, Tom and Cyndee Spear, Jack’s Surfboards, Nalu’s Island Grill, Huntington Surf & Sport, HSS Java Point and Rip Curl.

“Jim and I realize that we do not have a monopoly on grief,” Valen said on the website. “Good people like you may have been subject to wrongdoings and trials and tribulations of your own. Your outgoing support validates not only to us, but to the universe that humanity will overcome, goodwill defeats evil, and love will prevail in the end.”

Cost to surf in the contest is $25. Deadline for registration by mail has passed, but beach sign-ups are available if you show up at the contest site before 6:45 a.m.

If you can’t make it to the contest, you can still donate. Go to or send a check made out to the Dane Williams Memorial Foundation to: Dane Williams Memorial Foundation, 412 Olive Ave., #336, Huntington Beach, Calif. 92648.

Keeping up with Kanoa

Huntington Beach’s Kanoa Igarashi was one of 112 surfers entered into the World Surf League’s Billabong Pro Cascais, a 10,000-point Qualifying Series (QS) contest in Portugal that finished up on Thursday.

Igarashi made it through five heats, reaching the semifinals, before losing to Brazil’s Italo Ferreira by a smidgen, 12.67-12.30, Igarashi finishing in equal-third place.

Though he didn’t win it, Igarashi picked up a critical 6,500 points and moved up into second place in the QS rankings. And that’s important because if he doesn’t finish in the top 22 of the Championship Tour (CT) rankings (he’s currently 24th), he would need to finish in the top 10 of the QS to requalify for the CT in 2018.

With only two 10,000-point contests remaining this season, Igarashi has all but secured his spot on the CT next year, which will be his third.

“I woke up a little bit late, and I didn’t feel like I was completely on in my heat,” Igarashi told about his semifinal setback. “I was a bit cold and felt like I could have surfed better which I’m a little bummed about, but either way I’m stoked with the semifinal result. Requalification was the goal coming into this event and I think I’ve achieved that, so I’m going to be able to enjoy the next two events in France and Peniche more, which are two of my favorites in awesome beachbreaks.”

Igarashi is now in Landes, Nouvelle-Aquitaine, France for the Quiksilver Pro France that is scheduled to begin Saturday.

JOE HAAKENSON is a Huntington Beach-based sports writer and editor. He may be reached at

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