Well, the 2004 SURFER Poll awards have come and gone, and after a day of letting the dust settle, an obligatory recap is in order. And the thing of most note is this: The 2004 awards were unanimously voted the best in history. No fooling. Give credit to the fact that the booze was kept to moderate levels due to the Boost Mobile Pro at Lowers beginning the following day, or by the sobering and heartfelt speech issued by guru Gerry Lopez, or due to the stunning results of this year's poll and the consequent emotional words, but the crowd in attendance was decidedly mellow, thoughtful and attentive.
Which isn't to say that it wasn't a party, because, as the photos will prove, and as a stroll through the red carpet area showed, there was plenty of action on hand. Beautiful women, guys in shiny shirts and a constantly crowded bar kept the evening lubricated and free-flowing—just not obnoxious.
The awards got underway auspiciously, which is to say on time. After corralling the crowd to their seats at the Grove Theater, SURFER Publisher Rick Irons set the tone with the characteristic wit and charm that people have come to expect from a man in a purple striped shirt. From there, legendary funny man Peter King took over for the Video Awards, with intermittent guest appearances by Greg Noll, Mark Richards and Sam George, and a hilarious skit with Rob Machado, Pat O'Connell, Tim Curran and Saxon Boucher. The house was ecstatic when Huntington Beach's Timmy Turner was awarded Video of the Year for his film, Second Thoughts.
Editor Chris Mauro presented the Breakthrough Performer of the Year award to Carissa Moore, and Photo Editor Grant Ellis put aside the South African slang for a minute to award Scott Aichner the Photo of the Year award and a Canon D20.
The evening's most touching moment came when Laird Hamilton presented an honorary SURFER Poll award to Gerry Lopez. The SURFER Poll wasn't held between 1970 and 1979, and it's safe to say that Lopez would have won the award at least between 1972 and 1975. In light of this fact, Lopez was awarded a special SURFER Poll award, and was given a standing ovation by the entire crowd. Lopez delivered a heartfelt speech that lent a thoughtful air to the entire evening.
When Sal Masakela took the stage, the SURFER Poll awards began. Although most of the awards were handed out to familiar faces, the real excitement came as the men's number one and number two awards were handed out. The crowd was surprised when Andy Irons finished number two, and gave Kelly Slater a standing ovation as he took the stage as a SURFER Poll winner. Never before has a surfer fallen out of the top spot and regained it, which made Kelly Slater all the more reason to be moved. Slater cried as he accepted the award, and the crowd seemed pleased for the six-time world champion.
As always, the SURFER Poll was a gigantic party this year, but, unlike in years past, it's one that everyone in attendance will remember.