Over 100 people paddled out into the Pacific Ocean on Saturday, forming a large circle in support of the Surfrider Foundation and its goal to reduce coastal pollution.
The third annual Paddle Out charity event included appearances by 1977 World Surfing Champion Shaun Tomson, Santa Barbara City Councilwoman Helen Schneider, 2nd District Supervisor Janet Wolf and California State Assemblyman Pedro Nava. The event, which was held on the beach at the base of Stearns Wharf, collected various donations from passersby and obtained $700 from the auction of a Paradise Planks surfboard.
During the event, several participants grabbed their surfboards, kayaks, boats – and in some cases, just their swimming goggles – as they paddled along Stearns Wharf. Participants eventually came together to hold hands and form a large “healing” circle as beachcombers looked on.
Tomson, a long-time Montecito resident, spoke about water quality and California coastline issues. He said he was pleased with the healing circle and the message it represented.
“The healing circle is wonderful,” he said. “It’s a big circle of energy out there in the ocean and as surfers, we ride bands of energy. It’s just great.”
Third-year biopsychology major Mariya Groysman said she was volunteering for the Surfrider Foundation in support of coastal environment issues.
“If you’re going to do something on a Saturday morning, what could be better than coming out, hanging out with a bunch of cool people and contributing to such a good cause?” Groysman said.
In an interview, Wolf said it was important to preserve the coastal waters.
“What we have here [with our oceans] is so precious and yet is something we have taken for granted in the past,” Wolf said. “With testing we now know how polluted our oceans really are, and it’s an outrage.”
At the event, Tomson said he was concerned about a proposed toll road in Orange County that could threaten Trestles Beach, a world-renowned surf spot.
“The loss of one great surf spot is like losing a species,” Tomson said. “All because a few people just want to get to work a few minutes faster.”
The proposed toll road would extend the existing 241 Toll Road, potentially running it directly through or along San Mateo Creek – a primary watershed to Trestles. Tomson said the construction of the highway is potentially damaging to the renowned surf and detrimental to one of Southern California’s stretches of pristine coastline.
Tomson said he hopes to see a representative from UCSB fighting the toll road when it goes up for approval Nov. 11.
Meanwhile, multiple booths were set up along the beach, featuring representatives from Simple Sandals, Paradise Planks, Clipper Windpower and the Environmental Defense Center.
Schneider said events like these are necessary to educate the public about coastal pollution.
“This event is a way for people get together and see how something such as clean water can be threatened by the wrong policy,” Schneider said.