Waterman’s Ball honors Bethany Hamilton and San Clemente’s Herbie Fletcher, raises funds for ocean causes – Orange County Register

If Bethany Hamilton were given a choice — her arm or surfing — the answer would be an easy one.

“I always think how I’d way rather lose my arm than surfing. So, it wasn’t that big of a deal, I’m still surfing,” the Hawaiian surfer told a crowd of about 500 people gathered at the Ranch at Laguna Beach. “It had its hard parts, of course. But it’s only made me stronger. Our hard times do make us stronger. It just makes life that much sweeter when we can get back to what we love.”

Hamilton, who lost her arm to a tiger shark while surfing in 2003, was honored Saturday night, Aug. 5, as “Waterman of the Year” during an event held by the Surf Industry Manufacturers Association that brings surfing’s elite together for the industry’s biggest fundraiser to benefit ocean-related causes. While fundraising figures were not yet available, the event has raised more than $7 million since it was started 27 years ago.

Bethany Hamilton, who lost her arm in 2003 after a shark attack and today is one of the world’s best surfers, accepts her Waterman of the Year award at this year’s Waterman’s Ball in Laguna Beach. Behind Hamilton is an image of Herbie Fletcher, honored for the Lifetime Achievement Award (Photo courtesy: Jon Perino)

“We need to give back to the gift that keeps giving, and that is the ocean,” Paul Naude, founder of surf brand Vissla and president of the SIMA Environmental Fund, told a crowd of more than 500 people at the event.

The Waterman’s Ball also honored San Clemente surf icon Herbie Fletcher with the Lifetime Achievement Award, Cyrill…

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