Rick “Rockin Fig” Fignetti, a staple of the Southern California surfing community, died of a heart attack on Friday, July 16. He was 64 years old.
If you are a surfer in Southern California, you have very likely heard the voice of Rockin’ Fig. His distinct voice was behind the the surf report on KROQ radio station for listeners across Southern California for 25 years, and he was the announcer for countless surfing contests. Rockin’ Fig was a beloved member of the community; a fixture in Huntington Beach who owned Rockin’ Fig Surf Headquarters.
Fignetti was known for his long hair and goatee, along with his friendly smile and willingness to help. His shop was a throwback to surf shops from a bygone era, when the doors would close if the waves were good. Over the years, he hired hundreds of young surfers to work in the shop. He wasn’t in it for the money — instead, friends said, he ran the shop because he simply loved everything about surfing.
Fignetti got his nickname from the same person who taught him to shape surfboards: Chuck Dent. “One night, we were in the shop in the middle of winter, and I was dancing on the countertop. Chuck goes ‘you’re rocking Fig,’” he recounted in a 2006 interview with the OCRegister. “That kind of claimed it for me. People from way back when used to say, that Fig guy, he’s rockin’ out. It’s just one of those names that stuck.”
In the 1980s, Fignetti began doing the daily surf report for KROQ. Every morning at 7:20 a.m., Fignetti looked out at the ocean and called out a live surf report. It was invaluable to surfers at the time, long before live cams hung previewed the waves online. For a quarter of a century, Fignetti continued his morning coverage, finally calling it quits in 2010.
His love for surfing was never more apparent than when he was the announcer for competitions like the US Open of Surfing or the National Scholastic Surfing Association National Championships. He announced many up and coming world champions, including Kelly Slater and Andy Irons at the NSSA Nationals. Slater, in fact, was there when Fignetti was inducted into the Surfing Walk of Fame in 2010. He was also the announcer for the US Pro Tour from 1987 to 2002.
He wasn’t just the voice of surfing, though — he was an extraordinarily talented surfer, as well. He entered his first contest in 1978, when he was 22 years old, and continued competing for 40 years. “Something about surfing,” he once said. “It’s like the fountain of youth. You don’t age if you surf all the time.”
Fignetti’s passing leaves a gaping hole in the Huntington Beach community and the global surfing community, as well. His infectious smile and boundless stoke left an indelible mark and he’ll forever be in our memories. Our sincerest condolences go out to the friends, family, and anyone affected by his death. Thanks for everything you did, Fig. You’ll be missed.