Wrightsville Beach Museum of History Proudly Presents:
The Waterman Hall of Fame Class of 2016
Class of 2016:
Diving – Local Hero – Kevin Walker
Fishing/Boating – Pioneer/Local hero – Robbie Wolfe
Sailing – Pioneer/Champion– Martin Willard
Surfing- Local Hero – Mike Barden
Surfing- Champion/Local Hero – Tony Silvagni
Woman of the Year – Local Hero/Beach Culture – Tracy Skrabal
Celebration and Induction was held at Blockade Runner Resort on Sunday, September 25 at 2PM.
Marine Max, Hobie/Salt Life,
Wells Marine Insurance, Sam Franck, Dermatology Associates
Carolina Paddleboard Co., Clontz-Newkirk Real Estate Group, Parkway Subaru, ILM,
Spoon Goons, Newkirk Drafting and Design
What our sponsors say about Wrightsville Beach Museum Waterman Hall of Fame –
From Salt Life:
“Salt Life prides itself on being a leader in the beach lifestyle space and are honored to be a part of the Waterman Hall of Fame induction ceremony in the beautiful town of Wrightsville Beach. Our ubiquitous tag line is #wayofthewaterman so it is only fitting to be a part of this prestigious event. If you fish, dive, surf or just sit on the beach to enjoy the moment, you are living the Salt Life, and for that, we hope you visit one of our retail stores or on our site to learn more about who we are, what we offer and how we continuing to bring more awareness to living the salt life,” says Salt Life Marketing and Team Manager Larry Laska
From Marine Max:
Marine Max of the Carolinas is proud to be the Marine Industry Partner for the 2016 Class of the Waterman’s Hall of Fame. We are excited about the opportunity to be associated with this community and its efforts to recognize those that support watersports and the marine industry in particular.
Thom Cross, General Manager, Marine Max of the Carolinas
Wrightsville Beach Museum Waterman Hall of Fame
- This award was created to reflect the importance of community spirit and personal contributions to the culture of water sports throughout the history of New Hanover County Beaches.
- We wish to celebrate those individuals and groups who represent sportsmanship both in and out of the water.
- Those we recognize with this award exemplify the best of Wrightsville Beach in their character, demeanor, and spirit both in competition and in their respect for the community.
The Wrightsville Beach Museum Waterman Hall of Fame is intended to be a lasting tribute for the achievements of the generations of Wrightsville Beach watermen and women who have shaped this community and its relationship with the water. Wrightsville Beach was established because of the beauty and lure of the ocean and its marshes as a place to fish, sail, swim, surf and recreate on the water. The Hall of Fame will embody the values exhibited by the best of those who have made their home here based on that relationship with the water.
The Wrightsville Beach Museum Waterman Hall of Fame awards are selected by the Wrightsville Beach Waterman Hall of Fame Board comprised of members of the Wrightsville Beach Museum Board of Directors and community participants who represent a cross-section of those who have been a part of Wrightsville Beach water sports throughout the decades. There will be an emphasis on diversity of generations and sports within the Hall of Fame.
Class of 2016:
Diving – Local Hero – Kevin Walker – A graduate of UNCW and a long-time resident of Wrightsville Beach, Kevin has grown a passion for the difficult and often dangerous work of a commercial diver into a thriving local business. Kevin and his business partner, Mike McCarley, started by completing local dives on commercial marine construction projects and have expanded into a business that includes a private port just south of the state port and marine consulting throughout the world. Kevin has used his business success to give back to the community in various ways over the years contributing to schools, non-profits and organizations that promote the longevity of Wrightsville Beach.
Fishing/Boating – Pioneer/Local Hero – Robbie Wolfe – Robbie started fishing at the age of 10 on Johnnie Mercer’s Pier. At 14 he was mating on his father’s charter boat, the Whipsaw. Robbie still runs the Whipsaw, consistently winning fishing tournaments, making it the longest- running charter boat in the area. Robbie’s long-term commitment to charter fishing and his willingness to teach and look after other local fishermen over the past 30+ years is commendable. He is a wholesome, humble individual who cares deeply for our ocean heritage and is highly respected by his peers.
Sailing – Pioneer/Champion/Local Hero – Martin Willard Martin Willard has lived and sailed his entire life at Wrightsville Beach, starting to sail solo at the age of six at the Carolina Yacht Club and racing at 12. Over his 52-year sailing career he has competed, won or placed in the top 10 at the local, regional, national and world level in sailing and windsurfing. Today, Willard continues to actively compete in the Master Laser Class at the world level. He has been active in advising the Jr. Sailing Division of the Carolina Yacht Club and UNCW Sailing Club. Through his former business, The Ship’s Store, he organized and ran regattas and races from windsurfing to Hobie Cats. Martin is a true waterman and a reflection of his family’s long-term presence in the area, actively fishing inshore and off shore, kayaking, paddle boarding and surfing. He is well-respected and gives a humble demeanor to his accomplishments.
Surfing- Local Hero – Mike Barden – Mike Barden has been involved with Surf City Surf Shop since 1988 and has been its owner/operator since 2003. He opened the Annex offering fair trade and organic coffee and smoothies, with a community vibe of art, surfing and music. Mike has served, supported and help grow the Wrightsville Beach surfing community for over 27 years. Mike is a strong, positive role model for his young employees and the surfers who flock to his stores. He has generously given his time and talent to the local surfing community. He is admired as a fair businessman, a devoted family man and an influential figure in the local surfing world.
Surfing- Champion/Local Hero – Tony Silvagni – At less than 30 years old Tony Silvagni has won 3 world championships and is ranked #5 in the world as a professional longboarder. He moved to Carolina Beach with his family at the age of 5 where his love of the ocean and surfing in particular began to grow. By 18 he had secured a place on the ASP World Longboard Tour. In 2011 he won a gold medal at the ISA World Games. In 2008 Tony started his Surf School where he imparts his love of the sport and respect for the water and good sportsmanship. He created the first longboard club at Carolina Beach built around surfers giving back to the community and getting local competitive longboarders up to the national level. He has raised tens of thousands of dollars for this endeavor and for the Pleasure Island Lifeguards. He has assisted the lifeguards or rough days, where in 2010 he assisted in over 27 saves in one day, receiving a lifesaving award from the Town of Carolina Beach. Tony has always strived to serve as a good role model and positive example to those around him. His infectious energy and positive personality make him an exceptional advocate for the sport of surfing.
Woman of the Year – Local Hero/Beach Culture – Tracy Skrabal – Tracy Skrabal is the Southeast Regional Manager and Senior Coastal Scientist with the North Carolina Coastal Federation. A citizen’s- based conservation group working with many partners to ensure clean water and natural resource protection in NC’s 20 coastal counties. In addition, she lives the life, surfing every day that she can, often arriving at work with her hair almost dry. Ask almost anyone you bump into at Wrightsville Beach or even Wilmington and they know Tracy personally or know of her kindness, commitment to our youth, commitment to our coast and clean waters for all to enjoy and use. Her personality, humor, background, intelligence and tireless advocacy for our coastal waters make her a great example of one whose love of the water and its sports has led her to work to protect it through example and education.
Since 1997 Tracy has provided mentoring and experience in coastal stewardship to well over 500 high school and college students. She is a recognized leader and sought after community activist who supports many causes that relate to our beaches, clean water, community inclusiveness, and beach access. Tracy has been an active member of WBLA for a number of years, serving as Conservation Liaison. She has worked as a volunteer with the Surfer’s Healing program and advocated for improved beach access for all. She volunteers for annual SUP events in Wrightsville Beach and is an avid open water swimmer, surfer and Paddle Boarder.
We select up to 6 inductees from a combination of the following categories each year:
- Ocean Rescue/Swimming
- Woman of the Year
The Inductees should adhere to and/or reflect at least one of the following criteria.
Based on achieved fame as respected watermen/women or pioneers in the time before major championships; candidates must have reached the age of fifty years old or are deceased.
Must have held National Championship and/or National-Class events titles
Nominated from the arts and/or administration field and must have helped create or define beach culture. Categories: Fashion, Art, Music, Equipment, Literature, Film Administration, Photography, and Acting
Resident for 10 years in Wrightsville Beach or vicinity and were championship finalists in categories of Champions, contributed to Wrightsville Beach Water Culture, or were Pioneers in the Town.
The Honor Roll was created to honor those individuals who have contributed to water sports and its culture and are deserving of recognition, but might not qualify in other categories.
Amy Barnes Rose
Class of 2015
- Beach Culture – J. Skipper Funderburg
- Fishing/Boating – Mike Merritt
- Ocean Rescue/Swimming – Dave Baker
- Sailing – Dr. Joseph James
- Surfing – Champion – Ben Bourgeois
- Surfing -Pioneer – Will Allison
- Woman of the Year – Cissie Brooks
Class of 2014
- Sailing – Commodore Richard Bradley
- Local Hero – Tony Butler
- Surfing – Bill Curry
- Fishing/Boating – Captain Eddie Hanneman
- Woman of the Year – Jo Pickett
- Beach Culture – Josh Vach
November 2016 WILMA Magazine:
Skrabal joins Waterman Hall Of Fame, 2016 Class
TRACY SKRABAL was inducted into the Wrightsville Beach Waterman Hall of Fame this year, as its Woman of the Year.
Skrabal is the southeast regional manager and senior coastal scientist with the North Carolina Coastal Federation.
“Having grown up around watermen, it is very humbling to be considered as one within this community,” Skrabal says about the honor.
The Wrightsville Beach Museum of History board selected the six inductees. The award is meant to “reﬂect the importance of community spirit and personal contributions to the culture of water sports throughout the history of New Hanover County Beaches,” according to the museum.
– Vicky Janowski