Memorial paddle-out for Bob Meistrell
More than 1,000 surfers, paddlers and boaters filled the water off Redondo Beach, Calif., last weekend for a memorial paddle-out for pioneering waterman Bob Meistrell. The Body Glove International co-founder died in June of a heart attack in the engine room of his boat Disappearance after both of the boat's engines failed off Catalina Island. He was 84.
Family, friends and fans gathered around Disappearance, which was anchored offshore, and splashed water into the air as the wetsuit innovator's ashes were scattered at sea. On the boat's bridge, local musician Kevin Sousa played guitar and sang Bob Dylan and Lynyrd Skynyrd songs.
"It was kind of like a concert in the ocean," said Scott Daley, Body Glove's vice president of marketing. "It was a beautiful event."
Among those paddling out were former world champion surfer Peter Townend, Dogtown legends Jeff Ho and Adam Sarlo, South Bay pro Mike Purpus and five-time women's world champ Margo Godfrey Oberg, among many others.
Meistrell and his twin brother Bill -- both avid divers and boatsmen -- are credited with developing the modern day wetsuit. That story is part of "Fits Like A Glove," a book about their lives by Frank Gromling coming out next month from Gromling's company Ocean Publishing.
"The irony of it is that they didn't have that goal [of creating Body Glove] in mind," Daley said. "They wanted to be deep-sea divers, find buried treasure and own a submarine."
They did all that, too.