Chris Brown paddle-out
Farewell to a friend, surfers’ style. (Michael Holliday photo)
  • Surfers make a splash as Chris Brown’s daughter, Chloë, and his parents spread his ashes during a Saturday paddle-out off the Santa Barbara harbor sandspit.
  • Saturday’s paddle-out for Chris Brown followed a celebration of his life that drew more than 1,400 people to Calvary Chapel Santa Barbara.
  • As Chris Brown’s ashes were being spread, a rainbow appeared in the same spot.
  • Hundreds of surfers paddled out for a floating ceremony honoring the life of Chris Brown.
  • Throngs of spectators watched from the breakwater and Stearns Wharf.
  • Chris Brown and his daughter, Chloë.

The local surfing and commercial fishing community showed up in force Saturday to honor one of its own, Chris Brown, first at a memorial service at Calvary Chapel Santa Barbara and then with a paddle-out in the Santa Barbara harbor.

Brown died Jan. 19 at age 48.

“Brownie,” as he was affectionately nicknamed, was a standout professional surfer for 15 years in the 1980s and ’90s, competing on the international stage against some of the best in the world. After retiring from the pro surfing circuit, he worked as a commercial sea urchin diver.

At the memorial service, 11-time world champion surfer Kelly Slater shared that he and Brown were best friends and inseparable as teenagers.

More than 1,400 people attended the celebration of his life, which included inspiring messages of Christ-centered faith and hope led by Pastor Ricky Ryan, formerly of Calvary Chapel and now at Harvest at Kumulani Chapel in Maui, and Britt Merrick of Channel Islands Surfboards, the founding pastor of Reality Carpinteria.

After the memorial service, several hundred surfers participated in a paddle-out off the harbor’s sandspit, one of Brown’s favorite surf breaks. The group was surrounded by dozens of boaters while throngs of well-wishers looked on from the breakwater and Stearns Wharf.

During the floating ceremony, Brown’s 22-year-old daughter, Chloë, and his father, Dave, and his wife, Jane, shared a special poem, which was followed by the spreading of ashes returning Brown to the ocean that he knew so well and loved.

Brown was known by all for his amazing smile and his unending words of encouragement and stoke for everyone he met. Those who attended his memorial service were encouraged to honor his memory and to “Smile like Brownie!”

A GoFundMe page was established to support Chloë Brown. Click here to make an online donation.

Michael Holliday is a Santa Barbara architect, friend and lifelong surfer.

(J North Productions LLC video)