Walk into the Rockin’ Fig Surf Headquarters on Main Street, one of the oldest surf shops in Huntington Beach, and it’s like a time capsule of the beloved surfer’s life.
Photos show Rick “Rockin’ Fig” Fignetti hanging out with some of the world’s best surfers, including 11-time world champion Kelly Slater, as well as with countless Surf City locals. Newspaper articles with his words hang from the walls. His moniker is splashed on stickers, clothing and on surfboards that line the small surf shop.
And soon, Fignetti’s memory will be shared beyond the surf shop down at the Huntington Beach Pier, with a bronze memorial plaque looking out to the ocean where he could be found surfing everyday for decades.
City officials recently agreed to move forward with creating the memorial – early mock-ups feature Fignetti’s smiling face, framed by his trademark goatee and eyes beaming behind bifocal glasses.
Fignetti, who died on July16, was a well-known icon in Surf City, his cartoonish voice the most recognizable in the surf world.
Along with owning the popular surf shop, Fignetti gave KROQ listeners the morning surf report for 25 years and for decades his voice echoed across the sand as the emcee for countless surf contests and other popular events.
The city’s initial plaque designs also propose the words “Voice of Surfing In Huntington Beach” above his image.
In the months after his passing, his two children, Chanel and Ricky Fugnetti, have been trying to keep his shop afloat to keep his memory alive. (Fignetti used a slightly different spelling for his name to match his moniker.)
“I just hope it stays the same, that same warm welcoming vibe where everyone can come in,” said daughter Chanel Fugnetti, 33. “We want to hook people up, to remember my dad and hear the stories being told. We want to make him proud.”
Ricky Fugnetti said it was tough in the early days following his dad’s passing. But it was how the community came together that brought the family comfort.
“We are so grateful for all the people who came by to express their condolences, leave flowers, cards, buy boards and clothing in honor of my dad,” he said. “It is really incredible to see the love and compassion the community has shown.”
Ricky Fugnetti worked at the shop alongside his father for about a decade, spending day after day in the tight space – years he called the best of his life.
“It wasn’t just about making sales, but getting people stoked and bringing people joy through surfing,” he said. “He was always willing to help less fortunate people by lending them boards, giving them food, clothes or just giving them a place to hangout.
“The shop was a place where anyone was welcome,” Ricky Fugnetti said, “and we want to keep it that way.”
Chanel Fugnetti recalled years when her father would put out a Thanksgiving spread right on his surf shop counter for those who didn’t have anywhere else to be.
“He always wanted to help people. He didn’t judge you, it was kind of a misfit shop,” she said. “He would take in anyone, even people who didn’t have homes. He really cared about people.”
The family also hopes the city will continue the Rockin’ Fig Vintage Surf Festival that happens each year in front of the shop – it was canceled in October by an oil spill.
While Fignetti’s kids want to keep the store’s place in the past intact, there’s also some new ideas for the future of the shop and the next generation of surfers.
Chanel Fugnetti recently designed a line for kids, and especially girls, to add to the shop.
“I just want to have everything available, shirts, hats, boards, for girls and guys. There’s a lot of girl surfers now,” she said. “I love what we already had, but I thought it would be cool to add a little more.”
The Rockin’ Fig shop was, and still is, a throwback to the early days of surfing, a place where people would come in still salty from the morning session to talk about the ocean conditions or epic waves they nabbed. Groms (slang for young surfers) got their first jobs, first boards and built memories in the tight space.
The city recognized Fignetti’s surf shop as a place that provided a “home base for surfers who returned to our waves, time and time again,” city officials said. His unexpected death left an “indelible mark on Huntington Beach, and particularly among our surfing community. His involvement has helped cement Huntington Beach’s reputation as Surf City USA.”
Fignetti already has his hand and feet prints cast in stone at the Surfers’ Hall of Fame in front of Huntington Surf and Sport, as well as across Main Street at the Surfing Walk of Fame in front of Jack’s Surfboards.
Tower Zero on the Huntington Beach Pier is a top option for locating the memorial plaque, just above a tribute already in place for his best friend, Pastor Blaine “Sumo” Sato, whose smiling image is alongside the Rev. Christian Mondor, both spiritual surfers beloved by the community who died in 2018.
The new memorial plaque’s final location and design will be discussed by the city’s Community Services Commission and the Greater Huntington Beach Interfaith Council, with suggestions coming back to the City Council in three months.
Source: Orange County Register