Waterman award winners shine light on Wrightsville Beach


When six locals were recognized by the Wrightsville Beach Museum of History for the class of 2017 Watermen Hall of Fame in October, the master of ceremony said the award wasn’t about performance, but how the individual gave back to the Wrightsville Beach community.

“This isn’t just about performance, this is about giving back,” said Haywood Newkirk.

The inductees were recognized in the fields of diving, sailing, fishing, surfing, athletics and wildlife preservation.

Ryan McInnis, honored as a 2017 Hall of Fame inductee for diving, said the award provided a moment for him to look back at a recent tragedy, when fellow diver Brian Davis died in an accident in June.

“It’s not something you take for granted, it’s a risk inherent activity,” McInnis said. “At 21, he was lost to the sea.

Newkirk reflected on how many of the inductees helped raise the profile of Wrightsville Beach, especially noting inductee Roy Turner’s efforts to bring top-level surfing to the town. Turner, who opened the Surf City Surf Shop, brought pro surfers to the beach with the Record Bar contests in the 1980s.

“The best surfers in the world were in Wrightsville Beach, we had waves for three years in a row,” said Turner, who now lives in Atlanta, where he organizes surf supply conventions. “When I’m asked what my home break is,  I have no problem flying the colors, I’m from Wrightsville Beach.”

Newkirk said one example of a Hall of Fame inductee shining a light on Wrightsville Beach is Reggie Barnes. The local entrepreneur, who started Eastern Skateboard Supply in 1985 and owns several properties on the beach, has also focused on expanding the sport of outrigger canoeing to the area. Barnes was part of a team from Wrightsville Beach that went to Hawaii in October for outrigger canoeing

“They finished fiftieth out of one hundred, but a lot of people were talking about that ‘Carolina boat,’” Newkirk said.

Nancy Fahey earned the “Local Hero” award for her contributions to the Wrightsville Beach Sea Turtle Project, a group she first joined in 1995 after moving here from West Virginia, and would eventually lead.

“I never dreamed I would even see a sea turtle, much less hold one in my hand,” Fahey said.“My father passed onto me the value of protecting our natural environment. I’m fortunate that that was a theme of our life,” she said.

Over the years she has lead a committed group of volunteers to walk the beach at sunrise from mid-May to the end of August looking for any signs of sea turtle nests. Six volunteers walk the beach each morning, scanning the sand for any signs of sea turtle activity. They record and mark the nests, monitoring them during their incubation period, the museum said.

Sammy Corbett, a local commercial fisherman and member of the head of North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission, was recognized for his efforts to keep a balance between commercial and recreational fishing.

“It’s the old guys that made all of this possible,” Corbett said, acknowledging the generation that passed on the love of fishing to him.

Recognized for sailing, Dr. Murray Seidel, an accomplished local orthopedic surgeon,  reflected on the “hundreds of wonderful people” he met through sailing expeditions, through more than 50 years and 20,0000 miles of sailing.

“I’ve been racing boats since 1976, including long-distance races up and down the coast,” said Seidel, who also remarked on the beauty of the Milky Way at night on the water. “A season of racing taught me more than three years of cruising.”

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