Wrightsville Beach Museum announces 2016 Waterman Hall of Fame class


A local conservationist, a surf shop owner, a commercial diver, a champion longboarder and a sailor with a 50-year career headline the 2016 class of inductees into the Wrightsville Beach Museum of History Waterman Hall of Fame.

The 2016 class includes:

  • Kevin Walker – Diving
  • Robbie Wolfe –  Fishing/Boating
  • Martin Willard – Sailing
  • Mike Barden – Surfing
  • Tony Silvagni – Surfing
  • Tracy Skrabal-  Woman of the Year

The induction ceremony is scheduled for Sunday, September 25 at 2 p.m. at the Blockade Runner Resort. The Waterman Hall of Fame is selected by the museum’s board with the goal of establishing  “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.”

The board selected Skrabal, a senior coastal scientist at the North Carolina Coastal Federation, as Woman of the Year for “ her kindness, commitment to our youth, commitment to our coast and clean waters for all to enjoy and use,” the museum said in a press release. In addition to working for natural resource protection in all of North Carolina’s 20 coastal counties, Skrabal also is an avid open water swimmer, surfer and paddle boarder.

“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,” the board said of Skrabal.

The board recognized local heroes and pioneers in Willard, a competitive yacht sailor and instructor, and Wolfe, who operates the longest-running charter fishing boat in the area. Willard has sailed at the Carolina Yacht Club since he was 6 years old, building a 52-year sailing and windsurfing career that includes competitions at the world level and as an adviser for junior and college sailing clubs. Wolfe first started working on his father’s boat, the Whipsaw, at age 14 and still operates the boat after more than 30 years.

Barden was being honored for 27 years of supporting the surfing community as the owner of Surf City Surf Shop and Annex, while Walker was recognized for his community contributions stemming from his successful commercial dive business.

Silvagni is the youngest of the group, as the museum honored for his three world longboard surfing championships and world no.5 ranking. The Carolina Beach surfer helped build the popularity of longboarding, while also being honored for helping lifeguards on rough days.

The six inductees are chosen to meet a selection of categories that includes surfing, fish and boating, sailing, ocean rescue and swimming, diving and woman of the year. Additionally, the awards seek to identify local heroes who have been in the Wrightsville Beach area for at least 10 years, promoters of beach culture, champions and pioneers, who are at least 50 years of age.

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