SIMA Celebrates 35 Years as Waterman’s Gala Returns

The surf industry’s most-anticipated annual social event, the 35th Annual Waterman’s Gala, will be held at The Pasea Resort and Spa in Huntington Beach, California on Saturday, August 10th. This year’s gala returns to the ocean-view setting as 200 of the surf industry’s leading executives, local business leaders, and surf enthusiasts gather under the stars for an amazing night raising money for some of the most impactful environmental organizations working to protect our oceans, beaches, and waves.

Since 1989, Waterman’s has raised more than $10 million through the SIMA Environmental Fund to support beneficiaries that are dedicated to protecting our oceans, surf breaks, fighting plastic pollution, and more on behalf of surfers.

This year marks the 35th year of Waterman’s Gala. 

Over that time, the industry has come together each year to celebrate our oceans with this social fundraising event on the global calendar. Through the years, the industry has honored leading characters in surfing, as well as key figures in ocean-related environmentalism.

This year’s gathering of the surf tribe will honor Gordon Merchant with the Lifetime Achievement Award, Nathan Florence as Waterperson of the Year, and Vince Scandone as Environmentalist of the Year. In addition to paying tribute to this year’s amazing honorees, the evening will feature a live and silent auction, dinner, and lively socializing.

“As we gear up for the 35th Annual Waterman’s Gala, we could not be more stoked about bringing together the surf community for another inspirational night at The Pasea Resort and Spa.” Said Paul Naude, President of SIMA Environmental Fund. “This special evening is about coming together to raise funds for our environmental beneficiaries and to honor the iconic individuals who’ve made waves both in and out of the water.”

Nathan Florence: Riding the Waves to Greatness

Born and raised in the heart of Hawaii, Nathan’s passion for surfing began before he could even walk. His playground, an endless expanse of waters and towering swells of the North Shore.

From those early days chasing waves along the North Shore, Nathan’s journey has been one of dedication and relentless pursuit of excellence. With every swell, he’s paddled out, fearless and determined, carving his name into the very fabric of the sport he loves.

Nathan’s prowess on a wave is undeniable. From monstrous barrels to mind-altering slabs, Nathan’s fearless spirit pushes the boundaries of what’s possible in any wave, anywhere.

As Nathan Florence is honored with the prestigious Waterperson of the Year award by the Surf Industry Members Association, it’s a testament not only to his unparalleled skill but also to his unwavering passion and commitment to the sport and the ocean that defines him.

Gordon Merchant: A Pioneer of Surf Culture

Gordon Merchant found his calling in the waves of Australia’s coastlines. Born from a passion for surfing, Gordon’s journey went beyond the waves to building a legacy in the surf industry.

In the late 1960s, with little more than a vision, Gordon laid the foundation of what would become a global surf apparel empire Billabong. What began as a simple operation crafting board shorts in his Gold Coast home grew into an emblem of surf culture, and the mantra “only a surfer knows the feeling” was born with its distinctive waves logo.

To celebrate his lifetime of achievement, we not only honor a founder but an icon whose influence will continue to shape the next chapter of the surf industry.

Vince Scandone: Driven By Passion and Purpose

Vince Scandone, a prominent figure at Audi, epitomizes the convergence of passion, business acumen, and environmental stewardship. A lifelong surfer, Vince’s commitment to protecting our oceans has been unwavering. His love for the sport has fueled his dedication to preserving the very environment that sustains it.

Not content with mere advocacy, Vince has taken tangible steps to make a difference. For the past 15 years, he has orchestrated the annual auctioning of an Audi, raising unprecedented funds for the SIMA Environmental Fund benefiting numerous environmental organizations. This philanthropic endeavor stands as a testament to his ability to leverage his business connections for the greater good.

As a leader in both the business and surfing communities, Vince embodies responsible leadership; demonstrating that it is not only possible but imperative to pursue success while prioritizing environmental sustainability. SIMA is proud to honor Vince with the Environmentalist of the Year award; a well-deserved recognition of his tireless efforts and profound impact to protect our industry’s playground.

The Surf Industry Members Association is honored to welcome back once again our major sponsors: Audi and Surf Expo.

Waterman’s Gala benefits the SIMA Environmental Fund, a 501(c)(3) charitable foundation that awards grants to various environmental groups based on their dedication to preserving and protecting the world’s oceans, beaches, and waves.

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