Paddle Out To Commemorate 9/11

Dear Fellow Surfer,

With the anniversary of September 11 approaching, I felt that the surfing community would be making a mistake if we did not do something to properly commemorate the occasion in our own way.

Each one of us was affected by the horrible events of that day, one we will never forget. Many Americans will not know how to deal with the date other than by turning on CNN, but we are surfers, and we are different. Over the years our global community has developed our own traditions of acknowledging a tragic loss, whether it is in our personal family, the family of surfing, or the family of humanity. This is the Paddle-Out Ceremony.

As you may know, a large ASP World Championship Tour competition will be on at Lower Trestles with a waiting period spanning September 11. While it is absolutely inappropriate to make any promotional use of Sept 11 whatsoever, we are provided the opportunity to use the event infrastructure for our ceremony. And the ASP’s Top 48 surfers in the world, visiting from far and near, wish to join us side-by-side in our waters to recall what happened a year ago. If there will be tears shed on the morning of September 11, I say let them fall into the lineup at Trestles where they may mix together in the healing waters of our ocean refuge.

Constructing a commemoration for an event like the anniversary of Sept 11 is a very delicate challenge, so I ask for you to share your thoughts on the matter.

The following plan is a draft only and I welcome input from everyone as to tasteful and appropriate ways of showing the thoughts of the surfing community (and precise input in regard to flag etiquette and/or militaryprotocols is crucial).

Everyone who wishes to attend is invited and encouraged to paddle out into the water or stand by on shore. We’ll have a PA system and remote mike of some sort available and are looking for an outrigger canoe or something similar to sit at the center of the circles. A friend in NYC has sent us a small symbolic quantity of dust/rubble from the WTC site and the thought is to cast it into the lineup at Lowers where it will settle to the bottom and in a way become a permanent part of California surfing.

Please share this with anyone you feel may have a desire to be involved.


Bill Sharp


  • 6:30 a.m. Sunrise. Raising of American Flag at the event site.
  • 6:43 a.m. (Moment of crash of Flight 77 into Pentagon
  • 6:44 to 6:55 a.m.Gathering and briefing of participants on beach just southof Lowers peak.
  • 6:55 a.m.Participants to leave shore and begin formation of ceremonial circle offshore, in bay south of the Lowers peak.Distance offshore dependent on swell size.If sufficient participants are involved, four circles should be formed to symbolize the four planes involved in the attack.

While not enforced, it is hoped that the lineup at Trestles would remain vacant for 25 minutes, with the empty waves breaking in honor of the spirits of those who lost their lives.

  • 7:05 a.m.(Moment of collapse of South Tower.) Participants in position for ceremony. Lowering of flag to half mast.
  • Comments over PA system by ASP Officials and/or Surfers.
  • 7:10 a.m. (Moment of Pennsylvania crash of Flight 93.)
  • Comments over PA system by well-spoken representative of surf industry
  • Comments over PA system by well-spoken representative of surf community
  • Comments by any representatives of Fire, Police or Lifesaving services who may wish to be involved.(Input especially welcome!!)
  • (Should any individuals emerge from within the surf community who lost family members in attacks, their comments are most welcome).
  • 7:25 a.m.Casting of WTC dust/rubble into the Lower Trestles lineup.
  • 7:27 a.m.Chanting, splashing, throwing of leis
  • 7:28 a.m.(Moment of collapse of North Tower) Return of American Flag to Full Staff Position, accompanied by playing of National Anthem over PA.
  • 7:29 a.m.If possible and appropriate, a fly-by of Marine Corps jets from Camp Pendleton in missing-man formation.
  • 7:30 a.m.Completion of ceremony.Participants return to beach or surf in a brotherly and sisterly manner (careful out there, it could be crowded).