A wave goodbye to legendary surfer

Legendary surfer and modern-catamaran designer Woody Brown will be commemorated during a festival this weekend in Pacifica.

The ceremony, to be held Sunday at the Sanchez Concert Hall, was the idea of Roy Earnest and David Brown, two local surfers and filmmakers who made a documentary about Woody Brown before his recent death at age 96.

“My goal is to really have a nice event for Woody,” said Earnest, who got to know the legendary surfer throughout the last 15 years. “He lived the ‘aloha’ spirit — everyone who met him felt very loved and very welcome by him. He was one of those people who lived in a state of grace.”

Several years ago, Earnest, who lives in Pacifica, and David Brown, a Brisbane resident who is no relation to Woody Brown, co-produced “Surfing for Life,” a movie about 10 surfing pioneers. After the film, they decided to make another documentary focusing on Woody Brown.

“We just fell in love with him,” David Brown said. “Many people said he was the best character and deserved his own film. He is an inspiring guy with an extraordinary life experience.”

“Of Wind and Waves: The Life of Woody Brown,” an Emmy-nominated documentary that will be screened Sunday, tells the story of his sports accomplishments, spiritual beliefs and fractured family.

The film helped Woody Brown reunite with his children, whom he left to his relatives after his wife died in childbirth, leaving him heartbroken, the filmmakers said.

The film, which was made when Woody Brown was 85, includes scenes of him surfing. Woody Brown, who lived most of his life in Hawaii, did not stop surfing until he was 90.

“He said to me, ‘I rode enough waves in my lifetime, let other people ride them now,’” Earnest said. “He is an inspiration to thousands of surfers around the world.”

In addition to the film and hula dancing by a South San Francisco troupe, festival organizers plan to hold a traditional commemorative “paddle-out,” in which surfers will swim out, gather in a circle and throw flowers in the water.

“It’s a nice way to say goodbye,” Earnest said.

svasilyuk@sfexaminer.com

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