Crowds in Huntington Beach watch from the pier as surf champions, celebrities and locals break the Guinness record for most people on a surfboard (66). (Allen J. Schaben)
Sixty-six surfers. One giant surfboard. And a new world record.
The group made history in Huntington Beach on Saturday when they set the record for the most people ever to ride a longboard -- 42 feet long, 11 feet wide, to be exact. Hundreds of spectators cheered them on from the nearby pier.
"You guys were officially amazing," said Michael Empric, adjudicator for Guinness World Records.
To earn the title, the surfers had to stand on the 1,300-pound surfboard for at least 10 seconds while riding a wave.
"Welcome to the Guinness world record holder family," Empric told the surfers.
Some officials believe the riders – including professional surfing stars and local surfers and officials – managed to stay on the board close to 15 seconds.
It must still be determined whether the board also set a record for being the world's largest.
Gray skies didn't dampen the enthusiasm of the crowd.
"I'm not nervous, I'm excited," said Assemblyman Travis Allen (R-Huntington Beach), who joined the gathering at the pier. Around him, surfers and spectators eyed the giant board as it was taken to the ocean.
"We're Surf City, USA. Where else would this be happening?" said Jim Katapodis, Huntington Beach mayor pro tem. This is "great for Huntington Beach."
This is the second time the record for the most surfers on a board has been surpassed at Huntington Beach. In 2005, 60 surfers rode a 39-foot board that was on display in the city during the U.S. Open of Surfing, beating the record set earlier that year in Australia by 47 surfers on the same board. But Guinness officials were not present for the Huntington effort, so it was never officially recorded.
Huntington Beach residents Ed Fosmire and his daughter Lily were among the spectators gathered on the pier.
"We heard about the event when we got an announcement on our water bill," Fosmire said. "It seemed really cool to be able to witness a record being broken."
Preparation for the event took more than a year. The original plan by the city's visitors bureau was to have the board ready for last year's official 100th anniversary of surfing in Huntington Beach. But the project was pushed back due to budget constraints.
The 16-inch-thick fiberglass board, which cost an estimated $70,000 to $90,000, was designed by Australian board maker Nev Hyman and cut by Rhode Island-based engineering company MouldCAM.
It arrived in Orange County in two pieces and was assembled by Santa Ana-based boat builder Westerly Marine.
"I'm so proud of Huntington Beach and everybody that put this together," Mayor Jill Hardy said. "It's been a great day and a great kickoff to summer."