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Surfers put hands, feet in cement to mark Surfers’ Hall of Fame induction – Orange County Register

They left words of wisdom to inspire surfers and fans who will pass the concrete slabs in days and years to come.

Big-wave surfer Peter Mel shared a message that “presence is a gift.” Surf explorer Martin Daly inscribed just two words: “Let’s go.”

And restauranteur Michele Turner, the sweet “surf mom of Main Street,” wants to remind people to “always be humble, kind and giving.”

Those messages were set in wet cement by the newly-inducted Surfers’ Hall of Fame honorees who on Friday Aug. 5 joined the elite group who have left their mark in front of Huntington Surf and Sport across from the famed Huntington Beach Pier.

Huntington Surf & Sport founder Aaron Pai — who created the Surfers’ Hall of Fame, modeled after the Grauman’s Chinese Theater — kicked off the morning with a rededication ceremony. Attendees included four generations of the Pai family, from his 95-year-old mom to the 10 young grandchildren, who sang for the crowd.




“All inductees of the Surfers’ Hall of Fame have contributed greatly to advance the sport of surfing, whether through their talent, innovation and/or contributions to our surfing culture,” Pai said.

“This place becomes more special with each induction, every month and every year that goes by. After we are all gone, our kids and their kids will be able to come here and experience a little slice of our surfing culture from years past.”

Surf champion Corky Carroll talked about helping Pai take the first set of concrete slabs to a trade show in Long Beach to find surfers to honor.

“From then on, it’s grown to this beautiful thing,” Carroll said, recounting how one of those early years he accidentally stepped in the wet cement.

Mel was the first to be inducted. He spoke about how his father, John, who founded Freeline Design Surf Sports in Santa Cruz, introduced him to surfing, while his mother would regularly take him to the beach.

Mel is a well-known fixture in the surf world, a legendary charger of the largest waves around the world. He’s won many contests over the past three decades, including the 2012 Big Wave World Championship and the 2013 Mavericks Invitational. Most recently, he was awarded the 2021 Red Bull Big Wave Ride of the Year for a massive wave at Mavericks, not far from his home in Santa Cruz.

Mel talked about being inspired by his fellow inductee, Daly, who he’s spent time with at sea searching for surf.

Santa Cruz big wave surfer Peter Mel caught the "wave of his life" on this barreling 40- to 45-footer at Mavericks in January 2021. (Photo courtesy of Audrey Lambidakis)
Santa Cruz big wave surfer Peter Mel caught the “wave of his life” on this barreling 40- to 45-footer at Mavericks in January 2021. (Photo courtesy of Audrey Lambidakis)

Daly, originally from Australia, has spent his life exploring the coastline off Indonesia searching for and discovering uncrowded waves.

“It becomes pretty addictive, once you actually realize you can discover something,” Daly said. “I just made it a mission, a lifetime mission, to do the entire Indonesia coast, which I’ve done.”

Daly left his hometown as a teen to explore the world. He worked on dive and salvage boats in Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines, before purchasing his own boat with the proceeds from his recovered undersea treasure.

Since the 1980s, Daly has run boat charters that help other surfers chase their dream waves. He also gives back, providing relief aid after tsunamis in Indonesia and supporting coral health programs and research on nuclear debris in the Bikini Atoll.

“I think the most important thing I’ve discovered is that if you are prepared to get off the couch and get on a plane and go to the most remote parts of the world, there are still more waves than you can imagine that are perfect,” he said. “They are breaking right now and there’s no one surfing them.”

Surfwear icon Bob Hurley, who has chartered many trips with Daly, talked about first meeting him in 1999 during a 12-day trip.

“I was immediately struck by his passion, wonder, curiosity and sense of exploration,” Hurley said. He noted that he never asked Daly where they were going, knowing only that they’d wake to a new surf spot each morning.

“What a blessing to live your dream and fantasy and inspire others…I’m just struck by your innovative approach to exploration. It’s mind-boggling. I’m consistently impressed,” Hurley said.

“And I gotta get back on the boat. Please.”

Pat O’Connell, a former pro surfer who was featured in the film Endless Summer II, remembers a life-changing trip in 1996.

“What a great business you are in, making people happy and giving them the time of their lives,” O’Connell said.  “Congratulations … Let’s go somewhere else.”

Turner, longtime operator of the Sugar Shack restaurant in downtown Huntington Beach, was the last to put her hands and feet in the wet cement. Brett Simpson described her as a matriarch to many who brought the community together through the years, and said he remembered eating countless free breakfasts, courtesy of Turner, when he was on the Huntington Beach High School surf team.

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