VIA – TBR NEWS
Two icons ride into the Surfer’s Walk of Fame
by Dawnya Bartsch
(Updated: Wednesday, April 4, 2012 6:11 PM PDT)
This Saturday two more surf icons will be inducted into the Hermosa Beach Surfer’s Walk of Fame in a ceremony that should prove to be both a celebration and reunion for many.
Former U.S. Surfing Champion Mark Levy and surf photographer Steve Wilkings, who was the first to produce behind-the-surfer images of tube rides, will be honored with plaques on the city’s pier during an April 7 ceremony that begins at 11 a.m. The Hermosa Beach natives were picked by a committee consisting of past inductees.
Levy started his surfing career at the age of 10 with his dad. As a child, his favorite “go-to spot was the 16th Street drainpipe, of course,” he said. They would surf “day in and day out and especially during the rainy months.”
Levy became the Junior Men’s Champion at the 1974 United States Surfing Championships held in Cape Hatteras, N.C. He was a top-ranked surfer throughout the 1970s and had his own signature model surfboard, the “Mark Levy Tiger Tail,” made by Hap Jacobs. He was also voted best California surfer by Surfer magazine in 1975.
Not only is Levy an accomplished surfer, he has kayaked the entire California coastline from Oregon to Mexico, and competed in numerous open-ocean paddleboard races, including the Catalina Classic and Molokai Channel race. Levy also earned three Guinness World Records, which included crossings of the English Channel and Irish Sea with a paddleboard team.
And Levy finished the Boston marathon in 2 hours and 48 minutes, a fact not known by many.
Wilkings, who is a third-generation Hermosan, began snapping images of his fellow surfers as a kid, because it was a lot of fun and he had a knack for it, he said. He started making his own plastic water housing for his camera, allowing him to take more innovative shots. Wilkings’ hobby soon became his career after he realized he didn’t want to go through the many years it would take to become a marine biologist.
After attending art school, Wilkings moved to Oahu, Hawaii, eventually serving as a senior staff photographer for Surfer magazine. His images have appeared in Sports Illustrated, People, Time, Life, Playboy, Rolling Stone and Surfers Journal magazines, as well as in numerous books.
Wilkings is well-known for developing the first camera system to take remote photos from surfboard tails, enabling him to produce the first behind-the-surfer images of tube rides. His breakthrough system took him about two years to fine tune, he said. Back then, cameras weighed in at around eight pounds, which meant a surfer had to stand out further on the board to keep it balanced. This affected how well the surfer could move, so eventually Wilkings had boards made specifically to hold his camera equipment and allow the surfers the ability to do their moves.
“I have been really humbled by this whole deal,” said Wilkings of being honored on the Walk of Fame. “I think people often become photographers because they don’t feel comfortable in front of the camera.”
Wilkings, who now lives in Mission Viejo and works for the Surfing Heritage Foundation, will be staying at the Sea Sprite for “old times’ sake” this weekend, he said.
And like Levy, Wilkings is looking forward to seeing old friends and family at Saturday’s event, which promises to bring out past inductees and local surfers.
A weekend’s worth of events
The Surfer’s Walk of Fame was first dedicated in 2003 with pier plaques honoring the first seven inductees: Greg Noll, Hap Jacobs, Dewey Weber, Mike Purpus, Dale Velzy, Bing Copeland and Mike Stoner. Now in its 10th year, the event has grown significantly and is billed as “The Legends of Surf Weekend.”
It begins Thursday night, April 5, with a Boarding for Breast Cancer or B4BC event at Watermans in Hermosa Beach, with $1 for every signature pink drink going to breast cancer awareness programs.
On Friday night, April 6, the Hermosa Beach Community Playhouse will be packed with surfers as the South Bay Boardriders Club presents the “South Bay Big Wave Challenge Award,” honoring both the surfer who caught the biggest wave of the winter in Los Angeles County waters as well as the photographer who captured the image. Both before and after the presentation, there will be food, drinks, movies, live music and a silent auction to benefit the Hermosa Beach Historical Surfing Museum.
Saturday morning at 8 a.m. on the south side of the Hermosa Beach Pier, the best alumni surfers from Mira Costa and Redondo Union high schools will square off in the ultimate team format surf contest for bragging rights and …
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