Rich Love

So, maybe there’s this wetsuit or surfboard you really, really want, but just can’t afford. Or this long flat spell that’s really making you eggy. Life seems hard. Cruel, even. Maybe you’re tempted to shake your fist at the wealthy titans of surf probably cruising the high seas somewhere in their personal Indies IV or flying over outer atolls in their friggin’ seaplane. And then something really hard actually happens to you and suddenly the world doesn’t seem so cruel after all.

Rich Love

Life’s funny like that, innit?

Take the case of WCT-pro Richie Lovett. Last August the 33-year-old regularfoot from Manly, NSW, Australia visited doctors for what felt like a nagging and painful groin strain. A biopsy scan tested positive for a rare form of cancer, called clear cell chondrosarcoma. But forget the fancy name. Cancer. A rare and malignant tumor gestating in his femur for nearly a decade now, threatening his leg and even his life. Lovett finished out the year on tour, with only a few close friends aware of his situation, but by Hawaii-time he could barely walk without pain, much less battle the world’s best at Pipe.

It could happen to any of us. And we try to imagine how we’d react, what we’d do…but the truth is you can’t know. Not until you’re really there.

Fast forward to January 2006 — past the months of fear and doubt, pain and research, opinions and second opinions; past a fall from wondering if you’d ever be world champ to wondering if you’d ever walk again — Richie goes under the knife at the world-renowned Cedars-Sinai hospital in Beverly Hills, CA, where surgeons removed 15 centimeters of his femur and replaced it with an artificial prosthesis; the “Striker” model, to be exact. As Rich puts it, “I guess I’m technically a bionic man now.”

The surgery was a great success and Lovett reports steady improvement, walking nearly a hundred yards on crutches yesterday from the San Clemente home where he continues his recovery. “A personal best,” he calls it, “and eventually this process will take me back to the ocean.” But what remains in the wake of his high-end, overseas treatment and surgeries is over ${{{200}}},000 in uninsured medical bills.

Rich Love

Enter the titans of the surf industry. Those sea-plane buying moguls you were maybe tempted to shake your fist at that day your wetsuit finally tore in half or your board got its own nasal drip. Guys like OP owner Dick Baker, Billabong owner Paul Naude, Rip Curl CEO David Lawn, surf-surgeon Warren Kramer, FCS president Tyler Callaway and SIMA’s Vipe Desai. Enter the dream-tour/dream-life super-pros like Pat O’Connell, Timmy Curran, Mike Parsons, Taylor Knox, Mick Fanning, Mark Occhilupo, Joel Parkinson and countless others. Enter the photographers, the artists, the managers, reps and promoters from every corner of the surf-world marketplace. They’re standing together, laughing and drinking in the swanky digs of Laguna Beach’s Mozambique Restaurant, tossing out seven and eight grand at the time for a signed secondhand Mick Fanning DHD or a Joel Parkinson JS. They’re getting into ten grand bidding wars over a game of golf with Pat O’Connell, a surf-and-guitar lesson from Timmy Curran, or a tow-surf session with Mick Parsons. This particular SIMA-organized fundraiser alone managed to raise over $115,000 for Richie’s bills, while another event in Australia and another in Europe were raising even more. With so much Love pouring in from every direction, it’s safe to say that Richie should be free and clear to deal with his recovery in no time.

Call it “tribe”. Call it “family”. Forget the cheeseball sentimentality for a moment and call it whatever you want. The surf world looks out for its own with a heart like Teahupo’o, and just watching ‘em give and give is enough to make you feel all tubey inside. You could see it all over Richie’s face — standing quietly at the edge of the stage throughout the evening’s entertainment of Timmy Curran’s emotive songs and Pat O’s good-natured MC-ing — one feeling just radiating from his entire demeanor.

Rich Love

“Thank you,” says Rich. It’s a simple sentiment that casts a warm light over everyone. A calming and peaceful reminder to any and all of us that even when things seem their worst, they’re not so bad after all.

Best wishes to Richie for a speedy recovery, much thanks to everyone who helped make these fundraisers possible and profound Aloha to deep rooted love and generosity still running strong in the surf world.

Special thanks for last night’s event goes to: SIMA, Mozambique Restaurant, Propaganda HQ, Dr. Warren Kramer and the crew at Electric.

Rich Love

RESULTS FROM THE LIVE AUCTION AT MOZAMBIQUE:—6’0 Merrick signed by Lisa Andersen = $10,000
—6’2 Aloha Surfboard signed by Richie Lovett = $8,500
—6’1 DHD Surfboard signed by Mick Fanning = $6,000
—6’3 Dahlberg Surfboard signed by Occy = $5,500
—6’4 JS Surfboard signed by Luke Egan = $4,500
—6’2 JS Surfboard signed by Joel Parkinson = $3,000
—Hydro Epic board = $1,500
—Surf session, golfing and dinner with Pat O’Connell = $5,000
—Surf session with Taylor Knox and Mike Parsons = $3,000
—Surf session, golfing, dinner and guitar lesson with/from Tim Curran and a Fender Guitar (donated on the spot by Tim Curran)= two of these packages sold at $7,000 each (Tim was also the live musical entertainment for the night)—{{{Vans}}} Triple Crown VIP Package for all events (donated on the spot by Randy Rarrick) = $2,500
—Trip for 2 to Tavarua (donated on the spot by Paul Naude) = $10,000

Sound off in the comments below!

Join the conversation