WATERMAN'S BALL BY JAKE TELLKAMP
I stumbled into the Ritz with my beloved single fin under my left arm and with the presidents daughter gripping my free hand, my bag with the bellboy . The chandeliers above glimmered in gold, casting champagne ambiance amongst the old and young alike. Everything was right in my world.
The lobby was bustling with beautiful people. Nathaniel Curran, ex dream tour surfer and head honcho at The Young And Brave, a charity that benefits kids with cancer, pulled up to the valet in a Audi R8 with a 5’6 brunette on the passenger side.
He grinned, I grimaced, and then I steppedaside as Stephanie Gilmore, one of the three recipients tonight checked into her room, all expenses waived of course. Behind the concierge, a live webcast of Salt Creek showcased the two foot dribblers that Steph and her sister/manager would wake up to from their suite. She commented on my board, I beamed, and she told me that she too had a few single fins by Tim Stamps. My galpulled me away from the complimentary bowl of technicolor taffy. I sauntered off smiling.
We waltzed hand in hand and dropped our bags, quickly changed into suitable threads, and rejoined the one percent. The V.I.P party would be taking place at sunset and my gal had a family photo to take. Her father is a past winner of the Watermans Ball, Fernando Aguerre, the man who’s life mission it is to see the sport of surfing in the Olympics. And he’s damn close too, having just returned from Tokyo with news that if the Olympic committee is to go ahead and run surfing, it will take place in a wave pool that is currently being constructed in Kobe. The 25 million dollar project will be a much larger version of wave garden and unlike the Wadi wave pool in Dubai or Japan’s defunct Ocean Dome, the latter having a very short roll in to a waist high ramp. This artificially flavored wave will entertain the world I am told.
Fernando introduces his triplets and I to a variety of surf industry heavy weights. With each drink the names slip, “this man is making a documentary of Andy Irons, and this guy owns Tavarua, and this is Robert Trujillo the bass player of Metallica. Feelings of unworthiness fluttered through my 22 year old soul. So I retreated to the trophy table. Three names were engraved in gold, Doc Paskowitz for Life Time achievement, Perry Farrellfor Environmentalist of the year, and this years 2015 WaterWoman would be Stephanie Gilmore. Each recipient would receive a Zoolander-esque miniature version of their home break and an even more minuscule replica of their favorite board. After thirty minutes of free booze, the V.I.P section joined the silent auction with the general public.
On offer was the bountiful harvest of surfing’s capitalistic ventures;An array of single fin guns, an oil painting of Rob Machado by Letty Nowak, printed milestone moments from Tom Servais, a white 2015 Audi Q7, backstage passes to Coachella, limited edition D’Blanc sunnies, and a variety of art from Drew Brophy to Andy Davis. The bulk of the money raised tonight I learned would take place during the live auction, when the attendees took to their tables, drank red wine or fundraising gatorade as presenter Patt Parnell put, ate fillet mignon served rare, and listened to the nights musical acts.
Perry Farrell, founder of Lallapalooza and front man for Jane’s Addiction, rocked on alongside James Hetfield and Robert Trujilo from Metallica. The result was mind-blowing and the crowds wallets opened quickly as a high tide of cash flooded the conference room. As soon as the three piece finished with “Under A Tahittian Moon”, Trujilo offered his bass as a last second auction item. The bid war was won by none other then Stephanie Gilmore who’s autographed black beauty set her back a cool 10 large.
I drank heavily and vowed to dream bigger in life.