HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. – Friday, August 4, 2017 – Hearlded as one of its finest ceremonies to date, the Surfers’ Hall of Fame today welcomed Bethany Hamilton and Mick Fanning as its 2017 inductees. Further information is available at http://hsssurf.com/shof/.
Bethany, who survived a tragic shark attack in 2003, went on to become an inspiration to millions of surfers and non-surfers alike across the globe through her story of determination, faith and hope. Mick overcame a career-threatening injury and one of sport’s greatest competitive dynasties, in the form of American Kelly Slater, to reach surfing’s highest echelon three times to date. Both inductees now have their hand and footprints immortalized in cement for the ages in front of Huntington Surf & Sport at the corner of PCH and Main Street.
Following a blessing from Sher Pai, wife of Surfers’ Hall of Fame founder Aaron Pai, opening remarks were made by 2016 inductee Sumo Sato, who is fighting Cancer, and Huntington Beach Mayor Barbara Delgleize who stated, “I want to give a big shout out to Aaron Pai and his family and all they do for the sport of surfing. Events like the Surfers’ Hall of Fame really make a difference.”
Event emcee Todd Kline, a former pro surfer, introduced Aaron Pai and the festivities were formally underway. Aaron then greeted the industry, surfing royalty, dignitaries and the inductees themselves. “Styled after the Grauman’s Chinese Theater, inductees into the Surfers’ Hall of Fame have contributed greatly to advance our sport. Today we welcome Bethany and Mick. You have inspired many generations of people with your will to be unstoppable! You both are truly the King and the Queen of Modern Surfing”
In addition to surf industry titans including Bob Hurley (Hurley), Andy Verdone (HB High School surf team coach), Kelly Gibson (Rip Curl), Brett Barnes (Dukes), John Cobian (Cobian Footwear), Huntington Beach brass included former mayors Jill Hardy and Don MacAllister, City Manager Fred Wilson, Police Chief Robert Handy and Marine Safety Chief Michael Baumgartner among dozens of friends, family and dignitaries. Surf Legends Chuck Linnen, Jerico Poppler and Peter “PT” Townend were among the attendees.
Bethany Meilani Hamilton-Dirks was born in Lihue, Kauai. At the age of thirteen, Bethany lost her left arm to a 14-foot tiger shark, which seemed to end her career as a rising surf star. One month after the attack, Bethany returned to the water and within two years had won a national amateur title. In 2007, Bethany realized her dream of surfing professionally and since then her story has been told in a New York Times best selling autobiography and the 2011 film, SOUL SURFER.
At the 2016 Fiji Women’s Pro, she placed 3rd after upsetting two of the top seeded women on the world tour, Tyler Wright and Stephanie Gilmore. Bethany is involved in numerous charitable efforts, including her own foundation, Friends of Bethany, which reaches out to amputees and youth, encouraging a broken world by offering hope to overcome through Jesus Christ.
Using her platform as a professional athlete to promote living a fit and healthy lifestyle, Bethany authored the book BODY AND SOUL in 2014. Her latest project, UNSTOPPABLE, a surf documentary which will showcase her as one of the best women surfers in the world, will release soon. Bethany’s greatest joy is being a wife and mother, and she continues to touch and inspire lives globally as a professional surfer, and motivational speaker. She will be honored as SIMA’s 2017 Waterman of the Year.
“I’m so honored to be inducted into the Surfers’ Hall of Fame,” said Bethany. “I’ve had so much fun surfing and chasing my dreams. Hope is such a key part in this life. Surfing has brought me a lot of hope. I love being in the ocean and I’m thankful for the journey.” Bethany wrote “Always Hope (heart symbol) Bethany 8/17.”
Michael Eugene “Mick” Fanning, nicknamed “White Lightning,” was born on June 13, 1981 in Sydney, Australia. In his first year on the pro tour at age 22, Mick finished an incredible 5th in the world, earning the ASP Rookie of the Year award. In 2003 Mick climbed one step higher and finished 4th and many thought 2004 would be Mick’s year. However, a catastrophic freesurfing injury changed everything. Mick ripped his hamstring clean off the bone, was out of action for six months and left questioning whether he’d ever again surf competitively.
His comeback to the World Tour was a stirring win in front of 20,000 fans at his homebreak, Snapper Rocks. Mick then put together one of the most impressive competitive seasons of all time, winning three events, finishing runner-up in another and making four semi finals. His incredible effort in 2007 saw Mick become the first Australian to unseat Slater for a world title in 15 years. In 2009, Mick clawed his way from nowhere to catch runaway ratings leader, Joel Parkinson, one of his best friends, to capture World Title number two. He climbed to the top again in 2013, collecting his third World Title ahead of Slater in one of the sports most thrilling title showdowns.
Fanning became a household name in July of 2015, when he was attacked by a Great White shark during the finals of the J-Bay Open in South Africa. In a legendary move on live webcast, Fanning punched the shark and survived unscathed. Considered to be the fastest surfer in the world and credited for bringing peak physical performance to the forefront.
“I’ve been on tour for 16 years, seen many sights and suffered several embarrassing moments, but I always feel welcome in Surf City, said Fanning. “Being the youngest of five kids I learned to never back down and how to make it back to the top of the peark.” Mick wrote “Enjoy” in concrete.