The Surfrider Foundation's 31st birthday celebration at its San Clemente business park was somber compared to the blowouts with celebrities and pro surfers the environmental nonprofit has been known for over the years, but the mission remains as vital and necessary as ever.
After sampling the new Surfrider American Pale Ale from The Dudes' Brewing Co. of Torrance–but before cutting a surfboard-shaped cake created by Duff Goldman of the Food Network's Ace of Cakes and Duff Till Dawn–Surfrider CEO Chad Nelsen showed the couple dozen colleagues and friends present the short film We Are Surfrider, which is narrated by Entourage's Adrian Grenier.
Nelsen, who had been Surfrider's environmental director for 16 years before he became the first CEO hired from within the organization last fall, went on to detail what he sees in the ocean protector's future.
First and foremost, as he was telling me when we first met, is solidifying Surfrider's relationship with the action-sports industry. This would seem like a no brainer–I'd assumed going in that was Surfrider's strongest link–but Nelsen explained his organization has never really done a good enough job nurturing that relationship, noting that several new players have emerged in the industry since Surfrider was founded in 1984.
He also talked of shoring up his own staff so that there are more paid foundation liaisons to individual chapter volunteers.
Nelsen's goal is to have 100 percent of the United States coastline represented by Surfrider chapters before spreading the pollution fighting inland. Speaking of which, like Orange County Coastkeeper before it, Surfrider will be getting into the promotion of drought resistant landscaping soon.
While it may read like a laundry list of shortfalls to overcome, Nelsen struck a positive tone, saying things like "We will do this" to each new challenge he presented. And then it was on to his next one: taking a knife to that cake resembling the world's largest surfboard that Nelsen and other Surfriders rode to a world record on International Surf Day in Huntington Beach June 20.