Huntington Beach, Calif. (winner of the 10Best Readers' Choice award for Best California Beach) has played its part in surfing history and hosted its fair share of legends. With 10 miles of beaches, consistent year-round surf and some 50 surfing competitions each year – including the Vans U.S. Open of Surfing – this SoCal beach town has attracted surfing legends like Brett Simpson and Courtney Conlogue to its shores, and it's home to the International Surfing Museum.
Sixty-six surfers set a new Guinness World Record on Saturday. — Photo courtesy of Surf City USA
On June 20, 2015 Surf City USA earned its nickname yet again. On a chilly, overcast morning thousands of spectators gathered on the south side of Huntington Beach Pier to witness yet another moment in surfing history. Surfing legends and amateurs from around the world – 66 of them in total ranging in age from teenagers to a 79-year-old – piled onto a 42-foot surfboard and rode a wave for 12 seconds, setting a new Guinness World Record for "Most People Riding a Surfboard at Once." The behemoth board, which weighed in at some 1,300 pounds, is expected to set an additional record for "Largest Surfboard" later this week.
Video courtesy of Surf City USA
The board was packed with surfing royalty, but it was a local legend who led the charge. Rocky McKinnon, local pro surfer, instructor and board shaper, was tapped to select the perfect wave for the record-breaking attempt; the team had only five chances to get it right.
"Fortunately I've been able to now break two records," McKinnon told 10Best, "I was with the first one back in 2005, and this one I was a part of for my experience. It's just really, really an honor for Peter Townend and Bob, who helped build it and the visitors bureau and everybody else to have the trust and faith in me that I'm actually going to call the right wave."
Rocky McKinnon and his family pose for a victory photo with the big board. — Photo courtesy of Surf City USA
The previous record, set on March 25, 2005 in Queensland, Australia involved 47 people riding a single surfboard. After the big board was towed just off the sands of Huntington Beach with 66 surfers on top, McKinnon spotted a wave on their second pass around the buoy, setting a new records on the first attempt.
"How often do you get to break a world record?" McKinnon said of the big moment, "So much went in. A couple years to actually build and manufacture the board custom. It was such an undertaking ... Mother Nature had to play a role too. She had to come together for us. Fortunately, the waves weren't too big. They were just big enough ... We crushed the record and I couldn't be more proud to be a part of it."
The record-setting feat came just in time for International Surfing Day and the official start of summer. Visitors who missed out on the live action will soon be able to see the 42-foot big board in person, as it's slated for display at the International Surfing Museum in Downtown Huntington Beach.