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Haakenson: Schwarzstein-Cairns among locals to be honored at Surfing Walk of Fame

Joe Surf

August 01, 2012|By Joe Haakenson
  • Alisa Schwarzstein-Cairns of Laguna Beach is the Woman of the Year as part of the Surfing Walk of Fame honors.
Alisa Schwarzstein-Cairns of Laguna Beach is the Woman… (File Photo, Coastline…)

The U.S. Open of Surfing has become something incredible.

It's the biggest surfing contest in the world, with men's winner receiving a check for $100,000. I was down there Monday checking things out and I heard Rick "Rockin' Fig" Fignetti say on the loudspeaker that it had to be a record crowd for a Monday.

Event organizers were anticipating 750,000 would attend throughout the week. And with good reason.

How many world-class competitions can anybody get so up close and personal with the world's best? My 10-year-old son Cade and I were underneath the pier at the water's edge during the men's opening heats Monday.

Before their heats, many of the surfers would go down to the sand under the pier, stretch out and then enter the water on the north side of the pier and paddle out.

"Hey Cade, don't turn around, but there's a guy standing right behind you," I said. "His name is Adriano De Souza. He's from Brazil. He's one of the best surfers in the world."

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De Souza is ranked No. 4 in the Assn. of Surfing Professionals World Tour standings, trailing Mick Fanning, Kelly Slater and Joel Parkinson in the race for a world championship.

Would we ever get a chance to stand next to Albert Pujols when he was in the on-deck circle? How about standing under the hoop while Kobe Bryant was getting ready to shoot a free-throw?

When Slater ran by in his bright red rashguard and shiny bald head, I didn't have to tell Cade who he was. We watched him paddle out, then watched his heat while we were standing ankle deep in the water.

We watched Slater win his heat, landing a 360 rotation for a big score. Right there. Right in front of us.

But what sometimes gets lost in the frenzy that the surfing world has become are the pioneers who made it all possible. That's why, among other tributes, Don MacAllister, Mike Abdelmuti and Jack's Surfboards created the Surfing Walk of Fame in 1994.

You've seen the sidewalk in front of Jack's, the honorees' names and handprints imprinted in cement squares.

This year's honorees include seven people in six categories, including four with local connections. They'll be recognized during the induction ceremony at 10 a.m. Thursday in front of Jack's.

The Woman of the Year inductee is Alisa Schwarzstein-Cairns, whose family moved from New York to Laguna Beach when she was a kid. She quickly was hooked on surfing and began competing in — and dominating — NSSA events until she became a world amateur champion at 15.

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