Big-wave surfer and videographer Noel Cameron Robinson is memorialized
Big-wave surfer and videographer Noel Cameron Robinson was celebrated Saturday at a gathering and paddle-out that was attended by more than 500 family and friends in Jenner, Calif. “It was just love. Lots of love everywhere,” said Northern California photographer Seth Migdail, who attended the ceremony.
Robinson was revered for his talent at both catching and documenting the biggest and best breaks in the world with a singular passion for life, positive attitude and humble grace. “Noel was an inspiration in his entire approach to life,” said San Clemente pro surfer Rusty Long, a close friend and travel partner of Robinson who made the trip to Northern California for the memorial.
Robinson, who died at 39 on May 7 when he drowned in a surfing accident, was a Sonoma County native and frequent contributor to ESPN who by his own account was "living the dream.” He split time between surfing and documenting breaks in Northern California and his adopted home of Puerto Escondido, Mexico, where he drowned.
Robinson made a huge impact at the recent Billabong XXL Awards in Anaheim, where he not only won the prestigious video award for documenting South African surfer Grant “Twiggy” Baker’s Ride of the Year at the Maverick’s surf contest in February, but also showed a short documentary of a recent trip for the non-profit Save the Waves Coalition, which sent a team of big-wave surf ambassadors including Robinson, Ramon Navarro, Greg Long and Kohl Christensen to distribute clean water filters to coastal communities immediately following the recent quake in Chile.
“If there’s one thing that I learned from Noel it is that he treated everyone the same,” said Baker in a video tribute to Robinson on Surfline.com. “He was always positive,” added San Clemente's Greg Long, the 2009 Eddie Aikau champion. Both were in Puerto Escondido when Robinson passed.
I had the honor of shooting by Robinson’s side for much of the season and can attest to both sentiments. In a field where competition and ego often drive the game, Noel was nothing but helpful, encouraging and always wearing a contagious smile. His hard work, wave knowledge and selfless focus on all things positive set him apart from the field.
“Everyday I give thanks to the People and the Forces that be,” Noel said in his last Facebook post from Mexico, “that in some way made a Positive Impact on My Life, helping me to become the Person I am Today, doing what I love to do -- Everyday! With the People I Love to Do It With!!! Again, most of the Props go out to my MOM. :-)”
Based on the outpouring of love swimming among friends and family in the ocean paddle-out on Saturday it is clear that thanks belongs to you, “Noelcito,” for having a positive impact on so many. Your spirit lives in the ocean and minds of all you have touched. May you forever rest in peace.
-- Sachi Cunningham
(Middle) A makeshift memorial of love and respect for Robinson. Credit: Seth Migdail.
(Bottom) Family and friends form a circle during a paddle-out in Jenner, Calif., on Saturday. Credit: Seth Migdail.