Wednesday, August 24, 2005 | The 12th Annual Moores UCSD Luau & Longboard Invitational got off to a windy and cloudy start Saturday by Scripps Pier. But the early a.m. gray soon dissolved to “surf stoke” and luau, all for a great cause. This surf and luau event raises significant funds for cancer research at the Moores UCSD Cancer Center. The Moores UCSD Cancer Center is one of only 41 cancer centers nationwide that hold the prestigious classification of Comprehensive Cancer Center as designated by the National Cancer Institute.

As paying corporate teams – each with a surf legend – competed, onlookers crowded the beach and cheered them on. This year’s 2005 Title Sponsors were Gen-Probe and Silvergate Bank, whose generosity contributed significant funds. Silvergate Bank’s team is notably made up of “Cancer Thrivers,” surfers who have survived cancer.

More corporate sponsors chipping in big bucks included Cymer, DPR Construction, Pfizer, Quidel Corporation,, this year’s surf contest’s winning team the Waitt Family Foundation, WP Carey Foundation, Allergan Foundation, Amgen, Biogen IDEC, the third place Cahill Family team, CancerVax, second-place team Cooley Godward LLP, Favrille Inc., Forward Ventures, Inglewood Ventures, UCSD Alumni Association, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Sandler O’Neill & Partners LP Sanderling Biomedical Venture Capital, Ligand Pharmaceuticals and the Walton Family Foundation.

The Walton Family Foundation sorely missed its main man, John Walton. John, who has contributed millions of dollars to the Moores UCSD Cancer Center over the years, died a few months ago during a mishap flying an ultra-light experimental plane.

Another longtime Cancer Center supporter, surf legend Dale Velzy, also died recently. Dale succumbed, albeit stubbornly, to cancer.

This is why cancer research is so important. The day’s big honor, the Rell Sunn Award, went to Dr. David Tarin, M.D., Ph.D., and rather a nice guy for a genius. Dr. Tarin embodies the main components of the award’s inspiration, Rell Sunn. Rell Sunn was more than a surfer. She lived with grace and the aloha spirit of giving. In fact Rell described that giving spirit simply. “You give and you give and you give … and give from [the heart], until you have nothing else to give.” And she did until her 15-year battle with breast cancer consumed her. But, at the Moores UCSD Luau & Longboard Invitational, her spirit goes on.

And that spirit of giving thrives in David Tarin, this year’s Rell Sunn Award honoree. Dr. Tarin, as the former director of the Rebecca and John Moores Cancer Center, oversaw 250 brilliant cancer specialists while organizing them literally into the now finished Cancer Center building. Dr. Tarin, since 2004, has returned to the laboratory full-time to focus his research on two topics – the early detection of cancer and the manifold ways cancer seeds tumors in other organs.

Dr. Tarin is applauded for his dedication. He is preceded by a list of other very worthy Rell Sunn Award recipients. They are: Bill Otterson, Dani Grady, Charles Gorder Sr., Dr. Mark Renneker, Dr. J. Craig Venter, Alex Szekely and Jon Greif.

So with the premise of fun to raise funds, a crowd approaching 1,000 cheered on corporate surfers and surf legends. Some of the legends in attendance included Dale Dobson, Cabo man and Makaha legend Mike Doyle, former women’s world champ Debbie Beacham, former U.S. Champ and Women’s Waimea Bay pioneer Linda Benson, Wave Flow pioneer Carl Ekstrom, surf journalist Sam George, Surf Judge supreme Bart O’Rourke, former World Champ and Hawaiian Senator Fred Hemmings, Paul Strauch, founder of the famous “Cheater Five” maneuver, as in five toes on the nose of the board, former West Coast Champ and Hawaiian frequenter L.J. Richards, super board shaper Donald Takayama, “Mr. Pipeline” John Peck, Robert Weaver aka “Wingnut,” star of Endless Summer II, and Endless Summer movies’ star Robert August, nose riding champ David Nuuhiwa, pioneer of professional women’s surfing and cancer survivor Jericho Poppler, Pipeline switch-stancing Jock Sutherland, “Duke” Champion and coral reef expert Ricky Grigg, style surfer Mark Martinson, smooth and never falls Skip Frye, Windansea expert Woody Ekstrom, surf and paddle board shaper Mike Eaton, very fit Richard Chew, shaper Rusty Preisendorfer, publishers Steve and Debbee Pezman, Gordon and Smith’s Larry Gordon, “Mr. Drop Knee Turn” Henry Ford, and Steve Walden. Steve shaped the Custom Lance Armstrong “LiveStrong” board up for live auction.

Or make that “lively” auction. A Steve Walden shaped board, which symbolizes surviving and thriving cancer, is one of three in the world. One belongs to Lance Armstrong himself. And with that good karma in mind, the bidding went wild. Really wild. The board was given an estimated fair market value of $1,000. It went for an incredible and “great for cancer research” amount of $27,000. The winning bid belongs to generous Paul Grayson of Sanderling Biomedical Venture Capital.

But that wasn’t the end of this event’s “wow power.” An inflatable Uli board was humorously bid and counter bid on by what can only be described as a duo with comedic timing and a serious result. Wingnut added his trademark humor to counter bid John Moores. The John Moores of the Rebecca and John Moores UCSD Cancer Center. John would make a bid, and wise-acre Wingnut would counter. One would think Wingnut is doing exceptionally well with his “Surfing for Go with a Pro” business to compete with the deep pockets of Padres Baseball owner John Moores. Well, all in good fun as the Uli inflatable went to John Moores for a staggering $40,000 . . . yes, $40,000! The rumor in the mill is John wanted to make yet another big donation, and someone in his family has a yearning to learn to surf. Voila. Synergy. An Uli Board was the perfect excuse to donate.

Others there supporting and donating in the aloha spirit included Bill Andrews of, Stephanie Hoffman of La Jolla Shores Surfing Association, Ron Jones, Stacy Vosberg, Steve Blank, Nick and Jane Wyer, Scripps scientist Sam Iacobellis, Dr. Jim Whitesell, Tubesteak Tracey, Endless Summer poster artist John Van Hamersveld and pretty and petite coconut raffle girl Bettina Borrelli. Tiffany Cleary was there with two sons in tow. Tiffany’s husband Paul Cleary was extremely busy as co-chair of the luau. Also there were Hawaiian beauty Yana Deaton with her sweetheart Joey Cabell. Joey Cabell is the legendary surf star of the movie “Forgotten Island of Santosha.” Joey is also the co-founder of The Chart House Restaurants who has brilliantly retained the superb Chart House Restaurant in Honolulu. More there included Julie and Jeff Divine, private judge Geary Cortes, Denise the pretty wife of Carl Ekstrom, mayoral candidate and Councilwoman Donna Frye, cheering her surf legend husband Skip Frye on, and a whole lot of Riha’s including J.R., Jimmy and Patrick.

Timing was perfect as the high tide moved people to the tented luau feast above. Waters Fine Catering provided the bountiful luau feast including citrus ginger mahi mahi, udon noodle salad with snow peas, shitake mushrooms and sambal chili vinaigrette, glazed and slow-roasted barbecue pork and many desserts, including mouth-watering mini coconut haystacks with fresh coconut and macadamia chocolate brownies laced with chocolate truffle.

Mix in mai tais, Karl Strauss beer and you’ve got a luau!

More there enjoying the luau fare, Polynesian dance show and “Some Moores” included Mary Helen and Dave Ish, Annie Interbartolo, Debbie and David Kahn, film star and community activist Melinda Merryweather with “Endless Summer” star Mike Hynson, Lollie and Bill Nelson, Tom Ortner, Charla and Paul Mullen, event co-founder John Otterson and his brother Eric Otterson, Aussie awesome Murray Palmer, Charlie Robins and Dennis Frank, representing Silvergate Bank as Chairman, CEO and surfer.

Big applause goes to all of the supporters, big, tall and small, who made this event happen. Not the least of which includes aforementioned co-chair Paul Cleary and his two team chairs, Ben Wood and Hank Guyader.

It takes a lot of work and sometimes extra perseverance. Ben, looking handsome, despite new stitches to his lip, didn’t miss a beat organizing this year’s luau. Neither did Hank. Hank remarked “Finding a cure for cancer is a never-ending battle for the Moores UCSD Cancer Center”… (there is) no intention of stopping until the cure is found.” And found, a cancer cure will be, with formidable volunteers like these and generous donors. It is expected that a record $200,000-plus from this event will benefit cancer research at the Moores UCSD Cancer Center. Add to that a whopping $2.9 million (again a big thank you to Rebecca and John Moores’ earlier huge 2005 donation) raised at the Cancer Center’s black-tie gala this year and you have quite the formidably funded brain power to cure cancer. To somewhat paraphrase ’80s rock star Billy Idol, “More, more, Moores”! Rebecca and John Moores’ generosity “rocks” and so does the generosity of each and every participant, supporter and volunteer …. See you next year!

For photo coverage of this luau, past luaus and the black-tie gala, please visit Mahalo!

For more information on the Moores UCSD Cancer Center, please visit

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