Friday, August 28, 2020

Tom Gibbons Preserving Surf History

Building the Sport of Surfing

Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

Surfing has a glamorous image with daring surfers riding the waves. Behind the glamor, though, there's more to see – the work surfers do to better the sport, promote education, and serve the community.

No one does this better than Tom Gibbons, who has been a coach, founder of the National Scholastic Surfing Association (NSSA) and Huntington Beach International Surfing Museum, Surfrider Foundation HB education chair, and much more.

Gibbons began surfing as a teen and young adult in Seal Beach, CA, and has been surfing ever since, teaching surfing at Marina High School in Huntington Beach and starting the surfing program at Cal State University, Long Beach.

A believer in the importance of education and the cultural significance of surfing, in 1978 he and other surfing coaches formed the NSSA for amateur high school and college surfers. Along with hosting surfing competitions, their goal was to encourage scholarship and community service.

"We wanted to improve the image of the sport," says Gibbons, "and have younger kids look up to surfers as role models." The NSSA drew surfers from across the country, hosting the first National Championships in Huntington Beach its first year.

Now the NSSA is the leading amateur surfing organization in the U.S. Surfers who have gone through its program include Kelly Slater, Brett Simpson, Carissa Moore and Bethany Hamilton. Gibbons adds that “all the members of the 2021 USA Olympic Surf Team were members and champions in the NSSA.”

Putting his dedication to surfing into maintaining its history, Gibbons helped found the Huntington Beach International Surfing Museum in 1987.

And he was the first co-chair of the education committee for the Surfing Heritage and Culture Center in San Clemente, CA.

Gibbons has also worked with the Surfrider Foundation, which protects the world's oceans and beaches. Under his guidance, CSULB students formed the first Surfrider university club on the West Coast in 2013.

Tony Soriano, Surfrider’s Huntington/Seal Beach chapter advisor, says, “Tom is all about educating the next generation to take responsibility for the environment, especially the ocean that they enjoy.”   

SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel know the positive impact Gibbons has had on surfing and surfers themselves. Many surfers he coached still carry a guide he wrote, My Surf Journal, to document their surf sessions.

Gibbons is a role model both for his actions around the water and the way he lives life to the fullest, enjoying time with his wife Barbara…

restoring vintage cars…

and rowing with his dogs Yoko and Liberty. 

Tom Gibbons didn’t seek out the spotlight, but by following his passion for surfing and sharing it with others, he's gained the respect and thanks of the surfing community.  

Please post your comment below. Comments will appear the next day.

Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel hold the exclusive rights to this copyrighted material. Publications wishing to reprint it may contact them at Individuals and non-profit groups are welcome to post it on social media sites as long as credit is given. 

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Women Making Waves 2020

Nine More Women Shaping Our Seas & Surfing

Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

This is the fifth year for SurfWriter Girls annual Women Making Waves story focusing on nine amazing women who are making a difference in the life of our oceans and the sport of surfing.

Like the ninth wave in a set, which is bigger and more powerful than the rest, the women profiled this year have had a powerful impact on the environment and the world around us.

So, take a look at Women Making Waves 2020 and meet nine more incredible women. Scientists, surfers, entrepreneurs, environmentalists, artists, and more. SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel are excited to introduce you to this lineup of dynamic women.

Kristal Ambrose is the founder of the Bahamas Plastic Movement – a youth-led initiative that educates children about the environment and the need to protect the ocean. BPM runs summer camps with environmental activities and ocean trips to study the micro-plastics in the sea. Ambrose has gotten the Bahamian government to ban all single-use plastics. She says, learning to scuba dive “has allowed me to eliminate my fears of the sea and truly connect with it.” 

Asha de Vos, a Sri Lankan marine biologist and ocean educator, is a pioneer in blue whale research in the Indian Ocean. Known for the Blue Whale Project, which studies whales in Sri Lankan waters, de Vos has found them to be a unique species different from other whales. A recipient of a BBC 100 Women award in 2018 and TED Fellow, she envisions “a world where all people recognize the integral role that oceans play in our planet and are equipped to work toward its preservation.” 

Iwona Kapcia, the founder of Anowi Surfwear, designs active swimwear for women “made out of love of surfing and recycled plastic bottles.” With a degree in fashion design and merchandising from Marymount University, Kapcia uses sustainable materials and methods to manufacture her swimwear in the U.S. Her goal is that it “fits like a second skin, moves with you, covers but flatters a grown woman’s body, and does it all with deep respect for the planet.”

Suzan Meldonian, CEO, Discover the Oceans LLC, is an award-winning underwater photojournalist and ocean advocate who uses her photography to introduce people to the ocean realm. The author of two books about Florida’s Blue Heron Bridge dive site, known for its diverse marine life, Meldonian is working to preserve and protect the world’s oceans and their inhabitants. She says, “the oceans have a rhythm with which we need to be in tune.”

Carissa Moore, a four-time WSL Women's World Tour Champion (2011, 2013, 2015, 2019), was named by Glamour magazine as one of their Women of the Year in 2013 and inducted into the Surfers' Hall of Fame in 2014. The first U.S. women's surfer to qualify for the Olympic Games in Tokyo, Moore was taught to surf by her father on Waikiki Beach when she was five. She says, “the ocean is my happy place! I feel so blessed to be doing what I love every day.”

Anna Oposa is the Executive Director and “Chief Mermaid” of Save Philippine Seas, which is protecting the Philippines’ coastal and marine resources by mobilizing “seatizens” to support the environment. With an M.S. degree in Conservation Science from Imperial College, London, Oposa is focusing on waste management, shark conservation, and environmental education. She says that the biggest challenge she faces is “overcoming apathy.”

Emily Penn, a Welsh skipper and ocean advocate, is the co-founder of eXXpedition, the all-women sailing crew that is currently on a two-year voyage circling the globe researching the effects of plastics and toxins on the ocean.  "It's important to understand where the plastic in the ocean is coming from and how to prevent it," says Penn, who is a graduate of Cambridge University and a Fellow of Britain's Royal Geographical Society.

Norma Sellers is an ocean advocate who is working tirelessly to get cigarette butts off the beach. She and her husband Alex are the coordinators of the Surfrider Foundation Huntington/Seal Beach, CA, chapter’s Hold On to Your Butts program, which has collected over 650,000 cigarette butts. Sellers also educates people about the health hazards of the tossed butts. It takes a lot of her time, but nothing makes her happier than “running across a butts-free stretch of sand to the ocean.” 

Susan Wickstrand, surf artist, creates images that lift people up and encourage them to follow their bliss. Working in a variety of media, including oil, acrylic and collage, she captures moments that bring joy from her travels in Southern California, Mexico, Hawaii, and other beach locales. She hopes that her vividly colored artworks “take people away from the daily concerns of life, maybe back to that vacation you had with your loved ones or a surf trip that you loved.” 

Leaders in their chosen fields, each woman shares one thing in common – a passion for the ocean and a desire to make the world better.

To see the previous Women Making Waves, click: 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016.

Please post your comment below. Comments will appear the next day.

Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel hold the exclusive rights to this copyrighted material. Publications wishing to reprint it may contact them at Individuals and non-profit groups are welcome to post it on social media sites as long as credit is given.