Sophomore breaks world record: 511 surfers join hands to honor surfers in summer California event

June 20 was a cold, gloomy morning in Huntington Beach, Calif., but it was the perfect day to set a world record for the world’s largest honor circle. Sure, an honor or friendship circle was usually to celebrate and to mourn for the death of someone, but why not break a record with it?

Despite the calm setting of the day, my stomach was churning like no tomorrow. What if I messed up? What if I couldn’t make it out there with the others? Oh no … what if we were late?

“Don’t be nervous. This is going to be fun,” my dad kept telling me, “and we’re only a little late.” I nodded and watched the beach speed by. We were almost there. As we parked and started to pull on our wet suits, my stomach was doing flips. I tried to distract myself by helping my dad wax our surfboards.

Finally, it was time to head over to main street, to meet up with the other surfers taking part in the record breaking.

Luckily, we weren’t the only ones who were running a bit late.

“I’m just glad that it’s gloomy and not sunny; otherwise, our feet would be burning,” my dad said as we ran up to join the line. We set down our boards and greeted a few friends while we waited for the event to start. The plan was for everyone to meet on main street; we would all walk in the parade, and then into the water we would go.

“Alright! Everyone stay in your line and don’t move. We have to start counting you guys,” an unknown woman at the start of everyone said through a megaphone. After a few chants and a round of attempting to count us all, the woman began to try to get us all woken up and excited to go out there and break the record.

“Are you guys ready?” she yelled.

“Yeah!” we all yelled back, grabbing our surfboards, ready to start walking.

“OK!” She paused. “Five more minutes!” People groaned and shook their heads. We were just ready to head out there.

Longer than five minutes later, the marching band started to play, and the people in front of us started to move.

“Alright, everyone! Let’s go!” the woman said one last time.

The walk was slow, and throughout this all my stomach was still turning. Waiting in line on the beach was not helping either. The waves looked rough. Suddenly the woman spoke through the megaphone again.

“We understand if some of you want to stay behind, as you can see it’s kinda rough today. We might have a little trouble getting out there, but I know we can do this!” At that, every five people from each group started to head out into the water.

Soon it was my turn. I stood there, staring at the waves, wondering if I was going to be able to make it out there.

“Remember to hug the pier,” my dad reminded me. That just made me even more nervous. I had never surfed near the pier before, let alone gone under it.

“Alright, it’s our turn,” the people in my group said and started to move toward the water. I felt like I was going to throw up, and the walk to the water seemed to take forever, but as soon as I started to paddle out, all my fears disappeared. This was easy! What was I worrying about?

Turns out I thought too soon, because just then, a huge set started to roll in.

“Stay there and paddle into the pier!” my dad yelled to me.

I did as I was told and paddled toward one of the pillars as a huge wave passed me. I did this a few more times before going completely underneath the pier and crossing to the north side. My dad quickly followed suit. We were almost there. I could see the pool noodles that they had tied together so that we would make a circle.

When we made it to the circle, we held on to the rope and waited. There were still a few people on the beach that we needed to wait for, so we sat back and relaxed … for about five minutes.

“We need you all to grab the rope and pull it closer to the pier!” the voice came from a megaphone on one of the boats. With a few groans, most of the people grabbed the rope and started to pull, but apparently not everyone had heard. The people on the far side were just sitting there and making it harder to pull the rope. Finally, the people on the boat just told everyone to drop the rope and paddle over to the south side of the pier because they were going to pull the rope for us. My dad and I began to paddle with everyone else, over to where they told us to.

I guess some people still didn’t listen because half an hour later, they told us that the rope snapped because too many people were holding onto it when they were trying to tow it over. Well, that was the end of that.

“Everyone just hold hands! Forget the rope,” people yelled to each other. Again, most of the people did as others said and began to hold hands so that we could get this over with, but again, some people didn’t listen.

At this point, everyone was yelling at each other, trying to get everyone to just suck it up and hold hands. We were so close to getting everyone to hold hands. The people on the pier started to count. We had to hold hands in the circle for one minute, but there were some people who were afraid that they were getting too close to the pier, and they let go.

“No!” Everyone screamed at the people who let go. It was getting tiring. Most everyone had been out in the water for two hours already. We were all getting tired of paddling around, and we were getting even more fed up with the people who kept letting go when we were so close.

“Alright! Last time everyone. I promise! Please paddle to the front of the pier,” the woman spoke through the megaphone from the pier. Everyone groaned, but this time, everyone did as they were told.

“Now, everyone, grab someone’s hand! We’re going to get it this time!” With that, I grabbed my dad’s and a stranger’s hand.

“Hold hands!” People yelled at others around the circle. When everyone was holding hands, the Genius recorder could start counting. It was a long one minute; it felt like it would never end, but suddenly all of our frustration and tiredness was forgotten when we heard the words we had been waiting for.

“We did it!” the woman on the pier screamed. Everyone released hands and began to cheer and splash. I felt amazing. I was finally a part of history now.

Everyone surfed away despite all the huge waves. It was all in good fun.

When everyone made it back to the beach, we made a circle with the children (under 18) to honor them in a sort of way. At the end, the parents gave their children a necklace with shells on it. I got a few extra from adults who didn’t have children to give them to.

Then everyone either went back out to surf or went home to rest before the after party.

My dad and I showed up at the after party just to meet up with friends and, of course, to take a picture with the record.

We only stayed at the party for about an hour, but it was still fun. Although it was a bit challenging to get a picture with the record, we eventually got our turn. Before we left the after party, the woman from before, who turned out to be one of the workers for the Huntington Beach surf museum, made everyone cheer and laugh with her words.

“Today, we were supposed to have 500 people out there … but we had 511! You guys all know what this means. We have to beat our own record next year!”

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