It's hard to wrap an all-encompassing energy around the SURFER Poll Awards. Yes, this is the election that "really matters." And yes, this is the one night out of all three hundred and sixty five nights in the unforgiving year (excluding leap years) that the best surfers in the world (and all the people who help make them as great as they possibly can) agree to meet in the same place, dress up in fancy clothes, and take photographs together, but is that all there is to making it so special?
Yep. Pretty much.
As SURFER Poll 2008 host, Benji Weatherly, put so succinctly, "Everyone who is anyone in the surf industry is here tonight. That is what makes this the biggest night in surfing."
Whether it was Shaun Tomson reflecting on his cohorts' impact on the surf-world or Dane Reynolds' punch-drunk acceptance speech as the third most adored surfer in the world – one thing is certain: this night transcends all boundaries for passionate surfers around the globe.
And even if it takes a shove from the Red Bull-vodka auctioneers greeting attendees from across the bar, the feeling is real. All present can attest to that.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM ELECTION 2008
Kelly wins 14. "More of the same" has become a familiar slogan concerning the Republicans' hope to retain captainship of the United States of America, but it might as well have been Kelly Slater's mantra – because that's exactly what's happened once again. Our fearless leader takes us into 2009 with a progressive vision of the future, and if the last decade was any indicator, it seems we're in goods hands.
A Young Gun cracks the Top 5. A change we can believe in. Dane Reynolds. The world loves your sailor tattoo. The world loves your nonchalant attitude. And the whole world wants more. If you keep flying across the cobblestones of Lowers with reckless abandon then it looks like we’ve got a bright future.
Bruce. We've grown accustomed to the irreverence, but grace and composure are two things that have rarely trailed Bruce Irons' flanks. When accepting his award, Bruce graciously thanked all those who have helped catapult his career as well as the surfers who continue living the dream. Without spite, Bruce Irons announced his new direction away from the Dream Tour and he did so humbly. Impressive.
The Door Busts Down. Decades later, the men who made pro surfing what it is are as relevant as they will ever be. That's something to acknowledge, as in many sports, the legends are merely footnotes on the menu highlighting the flavor of the week. Congratulations to the cast of Bustin' Down the Door and those who recognize its significance. We move forward confidently with one foot firmly rooted in the past.
Long Live The Queen. Another small dynasty has taken ahold of the SURFER Poll Awards, and somehow it has passed quietly under the radar: Sofia Mulanovich won her fourth SURFER Poll in a row. Viva la Reina!
In more misogynistic news, Mickey Avalon sure rocked the house with his crew of ladies. During Mickey’s jaw-dropping performance a clan of fifty beautiful women stormed the stage desperately needing to “do the Jane Fonda.”
And a triumphant return to organic causes. A new award was introduced this year: The Agent Of Change Award. This gesture to recognize members of the surf community that are actively making a difference to better the world was given to Dave Rastovich. His organization, Surfers For Cetaceans, has raised awareness for the mistreatment of dolphins and bringing a more respectful relationship with our environment.
A portion of the proceeds from SURFER Poll and Video Awards 2008 will be donated to Surfers For Cetaceans and The Surfrider Foundation.
Much more to come from the "Biggest Night In Surfing…" as SurferMag.com's coverage of 2008 SURFER Poll and Video Awards Presented by Suzuki Automotive continues.