Guardians of the Ocean

The waves may not have been right for Mavericks this year, but there is still plenty of great surfing to be had on Thursday, May 24, when four filmmakers share their ocean stories at the Bay Theater at Aquarium of the Bay. An Evening of Surfing, part of the America’s Cup Health Ocean Project Film and Lecture Series, focuses on surfers and the role surfers play in protecting the ocean. The festival features Waste to Waves and Ice Board, the story of Conn Bertish’s ice sculpture made to highlight the plight of the oceans. Theaward-winning documentary Minds in the Water follows professional surfer Dave Rastovich across the globe as he strives to engage communities to help protect the ocean. The evening will also honor late surfer Jay Moriarty in Day of Jay’s who inspired the “Live Like Jay” mantra, which his wife explains as meaning: “Find out what you’re here for and follow it. Be true to yourself and treat others well.”

The evening of films will be hosted by Bay Area local and surfing legend Grant Washburn. In addition to his experience as a surfer, Grant knows a thing or two about films; he has spent time as a camera operator, cinematographer, producer and director on several ocean documentaries. We caught up with Grant ahead of the film festival to ask him about his passion and to find out how surfers play an important role in protecting the ocean and the marine life within it.

Grant, how did you get involved in surfing?
I learned to surf in New Jersey. I spent all summer at a family place on the beach, and though no one else was involved in surfing, I became obsessed by age 8.  

Why do surfers care so much about protecting the oceans, and what role do they play?
Surfers around the world act as early warning systems. They experience marine pollution firsthand, they feel the impact, and they frequently lead the effort to find solutions. It's hard to enjoy the waves when the water is gray and your sinuses are infected.

Have you experienced pollution firsthand while surfing?
Every surfer has experienced pollution and marine debris, because it is everywhere.  

What are some of your favorite actions that you have seen others in the surfing community take to protect the oceans?
Ocean Beach usually looks great thanks to community clean ups, but whenever we get some rain we see significant impact.  The water is often unsafe for contact.  
Why are you excited about An Evening of Surfing Films, and what are your thoughts on the importance of sharing these particular films?
Surfing has been a huge guiding force in my life. We all want to share the magic of the coast with our kids, so encouraging good stewardship of our planet comes naturally.

To learn more about how the ocean has inspired men like Grant and spurred them to make a difference, join us May 24 forAn Evening of Surfing. A wine reception will kick off the evening, and a question and answer session with filmmakers and local Mavericks’ surfers will follow the screening. Click here to purchase tickets.