"It's not for the faint of heart," Tom Brashears said as he stood near the Huntington Beach Pier on Friday night, watching the few surfers who had made it over the crashing waves to pay a hard-earned tribute to his son.
The friends and family of Austin Brashears, a 21-year-old Marina High School graduate who died May 12 in a New Zealand minivan accident, had set up a paddleout in his memory. About two dozen people formed a circle as the sun fell behind clouds, their black wetsuits turning them into specks that occasionally blended with the water.
With a cold wind blowing and the tide surging in, though, some people weren't able to paddle out to the still part of the water. The crowd on the shore — about 100 in all — turned into an eclectic mix of surfers in wetsuits, parents piggybacking their children and longtime friends who stood silently side by side, shivering in hooded jackets with their arms around each other.