1,000 Surfers Take To the Water To Honor Surf Legend Bob Meistrell
Over 1,000 surfers and and paddlers took to the water in Redondo Beach on Sunday morning to give a send-off worthy of legendary surfer, diver and Body Glove co-founder Bob Meistrell, who died in June at age 84.
Meistrell co-founded Body Glove International and co-owned Redondo Beach dive shop Dive N Surf with his twin brother, Bill. He passed away after suffering a heart attack on his boat.
"King Harbor's main channel looked as if a tsunami warning had been issued Sunday morning. Slips emptied and power boats, sailboats and skiffs crowded the main channel on their way out to sea," Easy Reader News reported.
They gathered around Meistrell's boat, the 72-foot Disappearance, which was anchored a few hundred yards off shore, according to Easy Reader News. They were soon joined by a dozen boats.
As Meistrel's ashes were poured into the sea, the paddlers and surfers splashed water into the air, Easy Reader News reported. Doves were released and the Redondo Harbor Patrol and Los Angeles County Lifeguard boats fired their water canyons.
After the memorial paddle-out, people gathered at Seaside Lagoon to share memories and eat meals from Bob Meistrell's favorite restaurant, Carls Jr, Redondo Beach Patch reports.
"[Bob Meistrell] was probably not the best surfer that I've ever known; nor was he the best diver that I've ever known," said Walt Puffer, a longtime friend who played water polo with Meistrell at El Segundo High in 1947 and served as a lifeguard with him after high school. "But he was a great waterman, and he was the best friend that anybody could ever ask for."
"It was a beautiful, beautiful paddle-out this morning," said Puffer as he greeted the crowd. "We couldn't ask for a nicer day. It was a beautiful day out there."
Puffer shared stories about Meistrell, including about how he helped Puffer teach a dive course twice weekly for years, free of charge.
Puffer said, "Bob made a lot of good friends in the movie industry. He taught many of your local heroes on the big screen how to dive... Lloyd Bridges (of) Sea Hunt, Hugh O'Brian."
Redondo Beach Mayor Steve Aspel said, "Bob was friendly to everyone because everyone was his friend, and everyone here will attest to that," Aspel told the crowd. "On behalf of Redondo Beach ... godspeed Bob and the entire Meistrell family, and we will miss you."
Bob's twin, Bill Meistrell, passed away in 2006 after battling Parkinson's. The Meistrell twins were the only two people inducted in both the surfing and diving halls of fame.