New South Wales surfers and passionate surf community members Belén Alvarez Kimble and Blake Johnston have been awarded the 2022 Aloha Award in Memory of John ‘Shmoo’ Shimooka.
The Aloha Award saw nominations that covered surf coaching, judging, community participation and overall contribution to the sport. This criteria is heavily linked to Surfing NSW’s purpose of building a better community through surfing.
Belén and Blake were recognised for their outstanding contribution and ability to provide a safe and inviting space to their respective surf communities in Cabarita Beach and Cronulla. The committee also wanted to highlight the incredible reach and range of people that Belén and Blake have inspired over the years through their own programs and the longevity of dedication in this space, much like Shmoo.
“Shmoo was an amazingly talented surfer, a great entertainer on camera and in the commentary booth and, above all, an incredibly giving human being,” said Surfing NSW Chairman John O’Neill.
“He was a coach, a mentor, a commentator and a passionate ambassador for surf brands and many brands that wanted to connect with the surf lifestyle that we all love.
“It’s fitting that in 2022 we recognise Blake and Belén who so embody that spirit of giving and building a better community through the surf lifestyle.”
“I am so honoured to accept the Aloha Award in memory of John. Everyone that met John really enjoyed his company and as a good friend of mine, I feel it is my duty to continue his legacy of helping the community and spreading good vibes. Through the surf academy, I put a lot of emphasis on backing anything to do with mental health. I love supporting the local community and want to continue to educate the next generation on the tools and resources we have that can help them live healthier and happier lives,” said Johnston.
Cabarita local, Belén Alvarez Kimble was nominated and awarded the inaugural Aloha Award due to her commitment to female surfing. As a former professional longboarder, Belén travelled the world for over 15 years promoting women’s surfing and upon returning to Australia founded Salty Girls Surf School, Australia’s first all-female surf school where she dedicates her time to building a positive and inclusive surfing community for women of all ages, ability and confidence levels. Belén’s infectious passion for surfing is seen throughout every project she sets her mind to, inspiring countless women that continue to look up to her.
“I am truly honoured and speechless (which never happens) to be awarded the Aloha Award in memory of my good friend John. He embodied the word Aloha completely and made such a significant positive difference to my life and to women in surfing overall through his constant support and encouragement,” said Alvarez Kimble.
“I grew up in a family that didn’t surf, so I had to push myself and really make my own path. During this journey, it was hard to feel a sense of belonging, so I am truly grateful nowadays that I can make a difference in a wide variety of women’s lives through surfing with Salty Girls Surf School. Surfing for women runs so much deeper than just standing up on a board, at Salty Girls Surf School we really focus on the mental, physical, spiritual and community connections that come with surfing. When you are only as good as your team, I am so proud and honoured to work alongside the incredible coaches that we have at Salty Girls, and also would like to acknowledge all women before me and their contributions to surfing as well as all the women that work in surfing, it’s incredible to see how far we have come.”
Please find hi-res images here.
ABOUT THE ALOHA AWARD IN MEMORY OF JOHN SHIMOOKA
In November 2020 the worldwide surfing community was deeply saddened by the premature passing of former Championship Tour surfer and Surfing NSW Partnerships General Manager John “Shmoo” Shimooka.
To commemorate John’s life and his contribution to surfing, Surfing NSW announced the inaugural Aloha Award in Memory of John Shimooka on what would have been his 52nd birthday (9th November).
The award is both democratic and equitable by design and will include male and female winners annually.
Nominations opened on November 9, 2022, with a request for each nomination to explain how the nominee has contributed to building a better community through surfing. Nominations closed on November 30, 2022.
The annual award winners will be people whose passion and community spirit spreads stoke and aloha. Their achievements may be in fields as diverse as performance surfing, coaching, mental health, surf rescue, boardrider clubs, commentating or surfing administration.
The chosen winners will receive a commemorative trophy that will be presented to them at the Sydney Surf Pro event to be held in May 2023.
The Aloha Award in Memory of John Shimooka is run by a committee of Shmoo’s family, former colleagues and friends and is chaired by Surfing NSW Chairman John O’Neill.
The committee members include:
Brandon Shimooka – John’s son
John Mossop – Vissla Managing Director
Luke Madden – Surfing NSW CEO
Ben Johnston – Johnston Advisory Director
Suzy Tight – Sales & Events, Go Live
The award will be presented annually in conjunction with the presentation of Surfing NSW’s Midget Farrelly Award for Lifetime Achievement.