Memorial paddle-out honors ‘Sumo’ Sato, Huntington Beach’s surfing pastor

Community members gathered for a paddle-out Saturday in Huntington Beach to remember Blaine “Sumo” Sato, the local surfing pastor who died of colon cancer in March.

The event, organized by Huntington’s Junior Lifeguards, featured speeches from surfer Rick “Rockin’ Fig” Fignetti, Marine Safety Chief Michael Baumgartner and Kiaka Gaughen, a lifelong friend of Sato’s.

Sato, who was inducted into the Surfers’ Hall of Fame in 2016, was known for his long white beard and his role as pastor of H2O Community Church, operating out of the International Surfing Museum in Huntington Beach.

He also was the Huntington Beach Marine Safety Division’s official pastor and was a regular speaker at funerals for people in the action sports community.