Everyone knows that a traditional Hawaiian party has to have poi. But nobody was complaining about the absence of purple paste at Sunday’s 11th annual UCSD Cancer Luau and Longboard Invitational, as 24 corporations sponsored four-man teams to surf for charity, raising close to ${{{200}}},000.

“We’re really proud of how the contest turned out,” says event co-chairman and O.B. local Eric Cusick.. “I think this year’s total is in the top three for the amount of money raised.”

Since 1994, this annual contest/feast has donated roughly 1.3 million dollars to cancer research. But, despite the fundraisers’ contest faade, the affair’s mood is actually far from cutthroat.

“The focus isn’t on competition but on the fantasy idea of surfing with your heroes,” Cusick explains. “Each team ranks themselves from least experienced to most experienced so in the heats you compete against your experience level from other companies, so the heats’ surfing skill works up till the legends.”

From style revolutionaries to former world champs, the talent pool of the legends was deeper than a Backdoor barrel. Even {{{Legend}}} competitor and 1976 World Champion Peter Townend felt the pressure firsthand.

“I thought I was in the World Contest in ’66,” laughs PT. “I had Nat Young, who was the world champion in ’66, Jock Sutherland, who was second that same year, plus David Nuuhiwa, Mike Doyle, Mickey Munoz, John Peck, Steve Walden — looking back, I was the grommet!”

Unfortunately for PT, his was one of many teams who came up short against the Walton Family Foundation with Skip Frye, followed by Mickey Munoz’ Chuck Hasley Memorial Team and Denny Aaberg and the CancerVax team. But even if only one group can win, no one is ever a loser when your surfing against cancer. Daniel Ikaika Ito