Surfing Scientists


Competing in the 14th annual John and Rebecca Moores UCSD Cancer Center Luau and Longboard Invitational, members of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography surf team proved there’s something to be said for having the home court, or beach, advantage.

Scripps surf team members—Jessica Carilli, Spencer Kawamoto, Drew Lucas, Gino Passalaqua, and Glenn Pezzoli—paddled, ripped, and rode their way to victory at the August 14 charity surfing competition held at the Scripps Pier. The Scripps team took first place out of 27 teams; only their second win at the event over the past 14 years, the first being in 2000.

The annual event is one of the most successful surfing-related fundraisers in the world. Each year, professionals, local, and surfers who have survived cancer come together to celebrate the sport and raise money for cancer research.

Greg Mitchell, Scripps team alternate and experienced UCSD Longboard Invitational surfer for Scripps, lauded the success of his winning teammates.

“It has become very difficult just to make the finals in this event, much less get a trophy,” said Mitchell. “The Scripps team did a great job surfing better in the finals than in the preliminaries.”

Teammate Pezzoli crediting surfing star Herbie Fletcher, who was randomly assigned to the Scripps team, for their win. “This year we had a great legend,” Pizzoli said. “Herbie Fletcher rips! He’s one of the very best.”

In addition to the surf contest, the luau featured a live auction to help raise money for cancer research. Personifying the day’s “aloha spirit,” Mitchell generously bid on and won a $6,500 surfboard, a donation he says he made not for himself or his Scripps surf team, but on behalf of Scripps as a whole.

“This is a fabulous event that I have had the great pleasure – and the honor – to contribute to over many years,” Mitchell said.  “I was thrilled to donate to the fight for the cure, having lost several friends and family members in recent years to cancer.”

--Shannon Casey

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