There were more clowns in the water than a typical Saturday at Sunset, a popular spot for beginner surfers where Sunset Blvd. ends at Pacific Coast Highway. There were clowns, a couple of Vikings, Santa Claus, Madame Butterfly, Silver Surfer and a superhero or two, the evil nurse from Kill Bill, the Grand Poobah and about 80 other surfers in costume, who paddled out at Sunset to benefit the Malibu chapter of the Surfrider Foundation.
The costumery and buffoonery were all a part of the Fifth Annual Doo Dah Surf Day! The inspiration for the event is explained on the official website at www.doodahsurf.com. "Back in the Spring of 2002, after a day of frustration at local breaks known for aggro-vibes and hostility, four local Surfers decided the best way to get surfing back to it’s pure and fun origins was to go the extreme of laughing at ourselves. Three short months later in June of 2002, over 30 surfers showed up in costumes ranging from nuns, to business men, to bumblebees. Ever since Doo Dah Surf 2002, each ensuing year has seen attendance double as well as increased recognition from media to documentaries. All proving that the surf community is ready for a day of fun and celebration.”
This Doo Dah day began early, with costumed surfers arriving as early as 6:30 to fuel up on Kurt's Famous Chili and listen to a ukulele band while checking out each other's costumes. They say that the definition of a gentleman is someone who knows how to play the bagpipes, but doesn't, and it was Walter Gorey who played the pipes and lead a procession of costumed surfers down to the water for a 7:30 paddle out.
For the next two and a half hours, the normally placid lineup at Sunset was a riot of costumed surfers (politely) taking off on each other and cheering each other on and crashing into each other and trying to keep their costumes from disintegrating in the sand and the surf. "Everyone was laughing at each other’s costumes and hooting at each other," said Nick Tarlov. "We really wanted to sea Tiki-Tony take off in his lawn chair on a wave. It is incredible that he could navigate that sea-going golf course at all (he had an Astroturf putting green mounted on his board). It was also pretty incredible to see the Silver Surfer riding waves."
Just up the coast, the annual Malibu Boardrider's Club Call to the Wall had more than 300 competitors scratching around in one-foot waves. Sunset actually had a couple of waist-high waves and the number of participants was solid. "Someone counted about 80 people in the water," said event organizer Michael "Tupper" Uhlenkott. "With the non-surfer participants, I imagine there were about 140 all together. Last year we had a swell with bigger waves and the numbers were more, around 200 or so."
There was no entry fee for the Doo Dah Surf, but the sale of $2 raffle tickets raised around $500, which went to the Malibu Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation. At 10:00, Santa Claus, the evil nurse, several Vikings, a masked, Mexican wrestler and a guy dressed as an oil slick, came out of the water to see if there raffle tickets were winners, or if there costumes would win a prize.