Legendary coach Andy Verdone, pioneer surfer Rabbit Kekai, and Dane Reynolds, one of the most progressive surfers in the world, will be the 2012 inductees for the Surfers’ Hall of Fame. Verdone, Kekai, and Reynolds will immortalize their hand and footprints in cement for the ages on Friday, August 3rd at 10:00 a.m. in front of Huntington Surf & Sport.
Celebrating its 15th anniversary this year, the nation’s first imprint collection of legendary surfers, the Surfers’ Hall of Fame celebrated its first induction in 1997 inside of specialty retailer Huntington Surf & Sport where several slabs remain. Four years later with the blessing of the City Council and a stunning bronze statue of sport’s spiritual leader Duke Kahanamoku serving as a backdrop, the ceremony moved outside to the corner of PCH and Main; less than 100 feet from the famed Huntington Beach Pier, site of the U.S. Open of Surfing.
Here’s a little bit about the newest inductees:
Surfing since age 5, Rabbit was taken under the wing of Duke Kahanamoku at age 10 and became a pioneer of the North Shore surfing scene in the ’30s, known as an innovator of drop-knee turns on short, finless boards. Nicknamed “Rabbit” for being one of the island’s fastest runners, Kekai is a living legend in the world of surfing. Rabbit won Peruvian and Makaha International titles during the ’50s, and each winter season, he can be found at every Triple Crown event, doling out jerseys, wisecracks and advice as Beach Marshall, a position he has held since the first Pipeline Masters in 1971.
Dane Reynolds, one of the most progressive surfers in the world, is known for his “go for broke” style of surfing that includes a number of experimental and aerial maneuvers. He competed in the 2003 and 2004 X Games and received the highest single wave score both years. His first video, “First Chapter,” won Best Male Performance in a Video and Video of the Year at the 2006 Surfer Poll Awards. Dane qualified for the 2008 World Tour, rocking to the coveted Top 10 in 2009. Reynolds had a breakout year in 2010, ending up tied for fourth in the world. Despite injuries that held him back in 2011 and thus far in 2012, Dane is known for pushing the boundaries of the sport. Many pros call him the most exciting free surfer in the world.
The Huntington Beach High School surf coach took over from the late Chuck Allen in ’87-’88, and immediately helped the team take home NSSA National titles. Known as the “Phil Jackson” of surf coaches, Verdone parlayed Allen’s success and has built his program into among the most successful and winningest in the country, capturing 10 NSSA National Titles as well as a National Surf League Title in 2010. He has trained and coached some of the best surfers in Huntington Beach, including the Deffenbaugh brothers, Jay Larson, Micah Byrne, Shaun Ward and Brett Simpson. Year after year, 100 students try out for his squad and only 30 make the cut. Verdone’s impact on the sport of surfing in Surf City is such that one young surfer moved here from Nantucket, Massachusetts without his family just to surf for the Huntington Beach Oilers.
The Surfers’ Hall of Fame induction ceremony pays tribute to those individuals who have made an indelible mark on the sport, industry and culture of surfing. Annually, tens of thousands of visitors to Huntington Beach’s downtown area literally walk in the footsteps of surfing superstars and legends from several eras including Laird Hamilton, Andy Irons, Jack O’Neill, Robert August, Bob Hurley, Sean Collins, Kelly Slater, Lisa Andersen, Pat O’Connell, Al Merrick, Shaun Tomson and Rob Machado who are already immortalized in cement.
Famed sports commentators David Stanfield and Rockin’ Fig will serve as Masters of Ceremony.