Joe Surf: Hundreds paddle out to remember founder

A couple hundred people paddled out on the south side of the Huntington Beach Pier Sunday while hundreds more lined the pier or stood on the sand to honor founder Sean Collins, who died of a heart attack Dec. 26.

Collins' two sons, Tyler and A.J., participated in the paddleout and got in the middle of the circle of surfers, who applauded as they stood up on a pile of surfboards.

During a ceremony on the sand, friends and family spoke of Collins and his impact on surfing, and shared personal stories about the forecasting pioneer.

"I wish he could see the love of community in this world he created, and how many lives he blessed with his science," A.J. Collins said.

The list of pro surfers, former pros and surf industry big shots who attended in celebration of Collins' life was long, and included Bob Hurley, Quiksilver's Bob McKnight, Huntington Surf & Sport's Aaron Pai, Katin USA's Scott Waring, Pete Townend, Rick "Rockin' Fig" Fignetti, Lisa Anderson, Taylor Knox, Mike Parsons, Brad Gerlach, Kolohe Andino, Derek Peters and Greg Long, among others.

Huntington wasn't the only beach to hold a paddleout for Collins. Last Friday on the North Shore of Oahu, a smaller gathering got together and honored Collins at Ehukai Beach Park.

San Clemente's Dane Gudauskas was among the group of about 25 who took part in the paddleout.

They also held paddleouts on Tavarua Island in Fiji, and in China, where the International Surfing Assn. (ISA) just held the inaugural ISA China Cup at Riyue Bay.


That's right. China.

The ISA worked long and hard to put together an event in China, and it finally happened, with the official name of the event called the Hainan Wanning Riyue Bay International Surfing Festival Presented by Quiksilver.

Wanning is a city on the eastern edge of Hainan Island, which is just off the southern coast of mainland China.

"This is a three-year process that has finally come together — it was a dream, then a plan, and now a reality," said Fernando Aguerre, ISA president. "We are bringing surfing and the aloha spirit of the sport to China."

"We really want to promote the lifestyle of surfing and all the positives that come with it," said Greg Healey, president of Quiksilver Asia-Pacific. "One of the great benefits of working at Quiksilver is that we get to promote a lifestyle we love and live every day."

Australia's Heath Joske won the Open Men's division, leading Australia to the team title over second-place France. Cory Lopez of the U.S. was in first place going into the final heat, but focused his attention on France's Marc Lacomare, who was in second place at the time, in the four-man heat.

"I made the decision to sit near Lacomare, that was my game plan at that point, and we all ended up going deep, leaving Heath all alone," Lopez said. "I used my strategy and it didn't work. That's how it goes sometimes."

Lopez finished in second place.

The winner of the Open Women's division was Sofia Mulanovich of Peru.

"I'm really, really happy. The waves are super fun, I've been hanging with my team, it's just been an amazing week," said Mulanovich, the ASP World Tour champ and the ISA World Surfing Games gold medalist in 2004. "Plus, I haven't really won a contest like this in a while; I got a little sensitive and almost started crying."

The wave at Riyue Bay is a long left and of course, was on target when it forecast 3- to 4-foot faces with occasional 5-footers for the championship heats on Sunday.


The Assn. of Professional Surfers World Juniors World Tour wraps up its three-contest series Jan. 20-29 at Gold Coast in Australia. The top mainland U.S. surfers still with an outside chance to win a world title are Newport Beach's Andrew Doheny and Santa Barbara's Conner Coffin.

Doheny placed second in the first contest in Bali, Indonesia, but fell to 33rd in the second contest at Rio de Janiero. He is in sixth place in the rankings with 8,500 points.

Coffin placed third in Bali, 17th in Brazil and stands in seventh place with 8,250 points.

Going into the final competition, Davey Cathels of Australia and Caio Ibelli of Brazil are tied for the top spot with 15,250 points.

JOE HAAKENSON is an Orange County-based sports writer and editor. He may be reached at

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