$20,000 RAISED FOR CHARITY AS THOUSANDS TURN OUT TO HONOR THE WORLD'S BEST SURFERS AT THE 2006 SURFER POLL AND VIDEO AWARDS PRESENTED BY SUZUKI AUTOMOTIVE
San Clemente, Calif., Sept. 13, 2006 – Over 2,000 people arrived in red-carpet style to honor the top names in surfing last night at the 34th annual "SURFER Poll and Video Awards Presented by Suzuki Automotive" at The Grove of Anaheim, Calif. After a solid day of surfing at the Boost Mobile Pro, spirits were high as all in attendance were anxious to see who would clench the top honor in the highly contested men's and women's SURFER Poll categories. In the end, Slater once again reigned victorious. In the women's category, former world champion and Peruvian sensation, Sofia Mulanovich, secured the top position to win her second SURFER Poll award.
The feelings of camaraderie were felt by all as Slater humbly accepted his first place award for the second year in a row and acknowledged the fellow surfers and friends that inspire him everyday. He congratulated his friends Rob Machado and Bobby Martinez on their well-deserved poll awards and expressed an emotional thank you to Al Merrick, long-term friend and surfboard shaper. "This award is a little more heartfelt this year," said Kelly Slater as he accepted his award. "Winning this award for the second time in a row and having my friends and family here to share it with me is wonderful."
Gene Brown, Suzuki Automotive's vice president of marketing, presented the Surfrider Foundation with a 2007 Suzuki Grand Vitara and a 2007 Suzuki SX4. He also presented Pat O'Connell with the keys to a 2007 Grand Vitara and pledged to donate five cents for every mile that he drives in a year, up to 20,000 miles. Additionally, $20,000 was raised through VIP table sales and will be split evenly between the Surfing Heritage Foundation, who aims to preserve, present and promote surfing's heritage for future generations, and the San Onofre Foundation, whose mission is to assist California State Parks in protecting and preserving both San Onofre and San Clemente state beaches. Since the government has decided to create a toll road near Lower Trestles, the most immediate concern of the San Onofre Foundation is to improve access to the area by creating safe and environmentally friendly walkways.
The night was filled with emotions. Bobby Martinez received two standing ovations from his peers for his win as the Boost "Breakthrough Performer of the Year," and for his fifth place on the SURFER Poll. "I went from never to fifth," said Martinez. "It's a trip! This is truly amazing for me to be here right now." The crowd was also moved when the heartfelt film Sofia won "Best Documentary," and later, when a healthy Timmy Turner, who recently recovered from major brain surgery, appeared on stage as a presenter to thank the surfing community for all of their support. Video Awards host Peter King, and SURFER Poll Awards host Sal Masekela, were once again pleasantly entertaining, as were special guest presenters Tony Hawk and Ultimate Fighters Rampage and BJ Penn.
It was also a night of firsts at the 2006 SURFER Poll Awards. The musical performance by Tim Curran and friends was the first time a musical guest played at a SURFER Poll, and the first ever "Breakthrough Filmmaker" award was given to Brian Connely for his film, My Eyes Won't Dry. Dane Reynolds swept up two award firsts for himself, winning "Best Male Performance" and "Movie of the Year" with his film, First Chapter.
Other Video Award winners included Nathan Hedge for "Best Tuberide," Sofia Mulanovich for "Best Female Performer," Secret Machine for "Best Cinematography," and Garrett McNamara for "Worst Wipeout." Tyler Smith was presented with the "Heavy Water Award presented by Corona" and Frank Quirarte received the "Photo of the Year" award.
Event results are posted at www.surfermag.com and for the fourth consecutive year FUEL TV will broadcast a one-hour television special. Check www.fuel.tv for airdates and times.