Huntington Beach native Rick “Rockin’ Fig” Fignetti, a fixture in the local surf community, died Friday of a heart attack at the age of 64.
Fignetti was well known in Surf City and beyond for his contributions to the local surf culture. He owned Rockin’ Fig Surf Headquarters, on the third block of Main Street in Huntington Beach, for decades.
Mourners put flowers there over the weekend as a memorial.
Fignetti, who long had a “Wet N Wild” column in the Huntington Beach Independent, was also well known as a surfing announcer. He was the voice of the U.S. Open of Surfing for 20 years, a run that ended in 2013 when the event changed sponsorships. He was also a longtime announcer for the U.S. Pro Tour.
Instantly recognizable with his thick glasses, long hair and goatee, Fignetti was also a voice that many grew up hearing. For 25 years, he did the morning surf report on KROQ-FM radio, until 2010.
“He taught me to surf!” tweeted Kevin Ryder, longtime member of KROQ morning show “Kevin and Bean.” “My fav. thing about him? If the waves were good he’d close his H.B. surf shop with a sign, ‘Gone surfing.’”
Jaime Strong, the marketing manager of the downtown Business Improvement District, said the district will be hosting a Surf City Nights celebrating Fignetti on July 27. The local Ramsey Brothers Band will be performing.
Strong said Fignetti was so welcoming in working with her in the institution of the “Rockin’ Fig Vintage Surf Festival” last October. That will become an annual event, Strong said, as his family has blessed it. This year’s festival will be on Oct. 9 as part of the Surf City Days celebration.
“He was so warm and open,” she said. “His friendship and support of me gave me this ability to understand Huntington Beach very quickly, and the downtown community … He gave me this quick history lesson of downtown Huntington Beach and surf culture, and he honestly changed a lot of things in my career and my life.
“I walked into his shop last July, and it was to find out how he felt about the street being closed. I knew who he was. I grew up listening to the surf report and I was really intimidated to go in and meet him. There was just something about him that automatically made you feel at ease and comfortable. He was someone that you wanted to be your friend.”
Fignetti, a Surfing Walk of Fame inductee in 2010, was accomplished on the board himself. A 10-time West Coast Surfing champion, he won national titles in the Explorer Super Seniors (ages 45 and up) and Explorer Duke (ages 55 and up) divisions in 2012.
Huntington Beach Mayor Kim Carr said that Fignetti embodied the “aloha spirit” that she sees as a key part of Surf City.
“He was such a good ambassador, not only for surfing, but for the city of Huntington Beach,” Carr said. “Everybody was treated like family. His voice is going to be missed, for sure. This one really hit me hard … He really was a local celebrity, but he never came across as arrogant or full of himself.”
Fignetti is survived by his longtime girlfriend Andrea Roberson, his children Chanel and Ricky, and his mother Betty. Plans for a memorial service or paddle out have not yet been announced.
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