Surfing for a cause

A surfer relies on many things while surfing - the size of the waves, the wax on the board, the balance, when timing the “pop-up,” and many other elements. Quality of the water is something that may not cross the minds of many, but is essential for a surfer.

The fourth annual Project Save Our Surf (S.O.S) reached out this past weekend Oct. 15, 16, to the citizens of Santa Monica and adjacent areas, bringing awareness to Santa Monica Bay’s poor health collaborating with celebrities, pro surfers, and first-time surfers.

In collaboration with Surf 24, the “Surf-A-Thon” took place between lifeguard towers 27 and 28, just south of the Santa Monica Pier, where participants joined to save the bay.

Actress Tanna Frederick founded Project S.O.S. four years ago when she saw the need for someone to step up and help take care of the water.

As an avid surfer, Frederick saw charity and surfing combine naturally to raise funds and help save the ocean.

“I'm tired of paddling out and having, like, Cheetos wrappers, baby diapers, and cans in the water,” Frederick said. “There's a lot of trash you don't see, unless you're in the water, surfing.”

There was a weekend total of 22 heats, with celebrity participants such as John Slattery, Jesse Spencer, and Tate Donovan.

Pro surfers Jesse Timm and Buttons Kaluhiokalani were present, while several first-time surfers were helped by pro surfer and instructor Frank Caronna, before they tackled the waves.

The event raised close to $15,000, which went towards organizations whose mission is to help repair the bay, such as Santa Monica Baykeeper.

Other beneficiaries on site included, Inside the Outdoors, Buccaneer Board Riders, Waves for Water, and Ocean Force.

“The ocean's been so good to me, I’ve got to give something back,” said Caronna, who has been giving private surfing lessons in Santa Monica for the past 8 years, and was happy to donate his time and money to the cause. “I've been involved since the beginning. It's nice to bring it back to Santa Monica.”

Eleven teams participated, with amateur heats having no skill requirement. Pro surfers and actors surfed in their own separate heats. Each heat lasted 45 minutes, and during that time each surfer helped raise money, with 100 percent of all donations going to charity.

The goal was for each team to raise $5000 in donations by Oct. 30. Due to website malfunctions, personal fundraising is possible at the moment, but donations can still be made to each team.

Saturday's S.O.S. event was followed by a blue-carpet gala at Frederick’s home in Santa Monica, to further raise money for charity. A special performance by singer Samantha Mumba was included.

“I'm so happy, it's very blissful,” Frederick said about the weekend’s outcome the surf event.

For Frederick, project S.O.S. is finally reaching levels that she had always hoped for.

“The past three years has been like ‘What am I doing? What's going happen?’” Fredrick said. “It's settling in, it's its own thing now. That's kind of what I wanted it to be when I started it four years ago. The fact that this year it's kind of running itself is wonderful.”