Today was the paddle-out for Andy Irons, three-time world surfing champion.
Hundreds of people came out to the Huntington Beach pier to pay their respects to Andy's family in memory of his short lived life. An absolutely beautiful day, waves were fabulous, and it was perfect for him. I was so impressed with how many people were there. Many generations of surfers.
This little girl wrote out "Rest in Peace, Andy Irons" and tried to repair it as the surf washed it away.
After the service, I made my way onto the pier and out to the end. There I stood watching hundreds of surfers begin their "paddle-out" and get into circle formation. The Orange County Sheriff's rescue boat was at the end of the pier waiting to spray their water hose.
I met a man who just happened to be Andy's uncle. (by marriage, he added)
He used to have a surf shop here, and if I was a surfer, I would have remembered which one. All I can say is that from the few minutes I talked to him, he seemed to be a very kind man who along with many many other people, were saddened by the loss of someone so young. As I began walking back I noticed that the partial circle that I could see was attached and spread out all the way back to where the waves were breaking. So, imagine, this circle was as wide and long as the pier. My camera couldn't get the entire span of it.
Isn't this the coolest thing? I think I've decided that if I was a surfer, I would insist on having a paddle-out for my memorial service. But since I'm not, I'll stick with just having a parade with everyone wearing big floppy shoes and red noses, clanging pots and pans, singing 'the old grey mare, she aint what she used to be'.
I would love to know just how many dings were avoided by all these surfers making their way back to shore. It was quite a sight! Andy, you would have been impressed.