‘Rockin’ Fig,’ the voice of surfing and Huntington Beach surf shop owner, dies at 64
The voice of browsing has long gone silent.
For many years, Rockin’ Fig’s distinct, upbeat voice echoed around the sand and surf and thru radio waves, with play-by-plays over loudspeakers at numerous surf competitions and for greater than 25 years within the surf record on KROQ radio station for listeners throughout Southern California – great example can be found at Surfing SD – .
Rick “Rockin’ Fig” Fignetti, a loved surf store proprietor of Rockin’ Fig Surf Headquarters and longtime fixture in Huntington Seashore, died on Friday, July 16, of a middle assault. He was once 64.
“He’d need us to rejoice his lifestyles,” mentioned longtime buddy Mike Downey, who labored at Plastic Incredible along Fignetti within the 70s and remained shut buddies during the a long time.
Fignetti — recognized for his signature thick glasses, lengthy wavy hair and goatee framing his stoked smile — were given his get started shaping at Chuck Dent’s surf store, the similar one who gave him his trademark title.
“One night time, we have been within the store in the midst of iciness, and I used to be dancing at the countertop. Chuck is going “you’re rocking Fig,” he recounted in a 2006 interview with the Register. “That roughly claimed it for me. Other people from long ago when used to mention, that Fig man, he’s rockin’ out. It’s simply a kind of names that caught.”
He began his personal store bearing his moniker, the similar store the place a memorial grew Saturday as a wave of buddies and fellow surfers stopped by way of to pay tribute as information unfold of his passing.
Fignetti hired numerous younger surfers to run his store, who all the way through a large swell would cling a “Long past Browsing” signal at the door after they have been working past due since the surf was once too just right.
He began doing the surf record for KROQ within the 80s when radio character “Deficient Guy” sought after to learn how to surf. Fignetti and surf champion David Nuuhiwa took him out for a lesson, then steered Fignetti do a surf record for the display.
Fignetti admitted being apprehensive in the ones early days as loads of hundreds of folks listened in at 7:20 a.m. each and every morning, taking a look out on the ocean at break of day and calling into the station to provide a are living record, lengthy sooner than the times of surf cam era utilized in web pages reminiscent of Surfline.com.
He did the KROQ radio surf record each and every morning for 25 years up till 2010.
At the sand, his animated voice saved spectators overrated as they watched competitions like america Open of Browsing or the Nationwide Scholastic Browsing Affiliation Nationwide Championships, the place he excitedly recounted surfers slashing waves out within the water, but additionally saved the group entertained along with his informal, laid-back manner.
His voice would decrease so the surfers within the water may listen him and know their time was once virtually up: “5 mins and counting” he’d say in a deep voice.
On the NSSA Nationals, he were given to pump up probably the most scorching younger groms sooner than they blew as much as stardom, like brothers Bruce and Andy Irons, and Kelly Slater, who ultimately was 11-time global champion.
“I used to take a look at to stuff him in a board bag,” he joked in a previous interview about Slater, who confirmed as much as see Fignetti inducted into the Browsing Stroll of Reputation in 2010.
Fignetti introduced for the U.S. Professional Excursion from 1987 to 2002 after which at the united statesOpen of Browsing for many years. His wisdom of surf historical past was once unequalled, having the ability to tick off factoids and random tidbits about surf tradition.
He mentioned what it was once like pumping up a crowd of loads of hundreds of folks. He’d steadily indicate the individuals who confirmed up dressed in wild costumes, remind folks to put on their sunscreen and put random folks at the microphone.
“You’ll truly really feel the power. It makes you step it as much as some other stage and truly get the group excited,” he mentioned. “Particularly at the united statesOpen, it’s just like the Tremendous Bowl of browsing.”
Amongst his maximum memorable moments as MC over time was once in 1997, when the surf was once huge and competitor Rochelle Ballard hit the pilings head first, desiring to be carried off the seaside by way of paramedics. Day after today, she got here again to win the development.
Considered one of his maximum notable years commentating the U.S. Open of Browsing got here in 2009, when probably the most largest waves ever for the development confirmed up. Slater tucked into an enormous barrel and Santa Ana’s Courtney Conlogue charged massive surf and shot the pier, with each she and Huntington Seashore native Brett Simpson profitable that 12 months.
Fignetti steadily reminisced about commentating along buddy Mike Morgan, his longtime saying spouse within the sales space who kicked the bucket in 2005, a loss that hit him laborious.
Fignetti’s saying gig for the U.S. Open of Surfing ended in 2013 when the development modified sponsorship, striking the surf neighborhood in an uproar.
It was once a gut-wrenching trade for Fignetti, who had transform a fixture on the match, that 12 months marking twentieth 12 months because the voice of the U.S. Open of Browsing.
However that very same 12 months was once one to rejoice — he were given his spot at the Surfers’ Corridor of Reputation, an match he additionally MC’s over time, striking his arms and toes in cement amongst browsing’s greats.
Fignetti additionally had a fierce aggressive streak. He was once the surfer with the longest observe file with the NSSA, getting into that first contest in 1978 at age 22 and 4 a long time later a normal competitor profitable nationwide titles.
His very best effects got here in his 50s, a long time after he first began competing. He in the end were given that elusive nationwide explorer identify in no longer only one, however two finals, the “tremendous seniors and Duke” divisions, in 2012.
“I couldn’t consider it,” Fignetti mentioned in 2018 when the NSSA celebrated its fortieth anniversary.
Lately, he persevered being the go-to guy to announce large occasions, the entirety to the Surf Town Splash on New Yr’s Day, the Blessing of the Waves that attracts hundreds and numerous paddle-outs that pay tribute to native surfers who go away.
Ultimate 12 months, Huntington Seashore hosted an match in entrance of his surf store known as the “Rockin’ Fig Vintage Surf Festival,” a option to assist traders who have been suffering all the way through the coronavirus pandemic and a option to honor his long-time store that has transform a staple in the neighborhood.
Peter “PT” Townend, browsing’s first global champion, was once stunned on the information and mentioned there was once no larger downtown character than “Rockin’ Fig,” who was once cherished by way of such a lot of folks.
Not too long ago, they mentioned doing an NSSA reunion, with conventional post-heat tequila photographs at Duke’s Eating place after the competition ended.
Fignetti was once undeniably one in every of Surf Town’s maximum loved icons, an unforgettable fixture who was once a part of the surf cloth of the neighborhood.
Longtime female friend Andrea Roberson, who was once with him when he kicked the bucket, mentioned he was once taking a look ahead to being grasp of rite for surf icon Chuck Linnen’s eighty fifth party on the Huntington Seashore Global Surf Museum on Saturday night time.
Fignetti as soon as mentioned how browsing saved him younger — and that he was once dwelling a lifestyles he cherished.
“One thing about browsing – it’s just like the fountain of teen,” he mentioned. “You don’t age should you surf at all times.”