Surfers' HOF announces 2011 inductees

Knox will be inducted into the Surfers' Hall of Fame in 2011. ASP/Cestari

This summer, the Surfers' Hall of Fame (HOF) is expanding. The hand and footprints of George Downing, Taylor Knox and Chuck Linnen will be cemented into the sidewalk of the HOF during a ceremony on August 5 in front of Huntington Surf & Sport.

Dave Stanfield, a regular contest webcast announcer for the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP), is slated to share MC duties with former U.S. Surfing Champion Corky Carroll. They'll welcome surfers whose influence spans seven decades.

"A committee of surfers, business men, community leaders and Corky Carroll help choose the inductees each year," said Huntington Surf & Sport owner and HOF founder Aaron Pai. Included among these is Sean Collins of Surfline, Huntington Beach high school surf team coach Andy Verdone and Peter "PT" Townend helping select the 2011 class.

The oldest of the honorees, Downing took his Waikiki-bred skills traveling in the late 1940s, part of an early group that surfed Laniakea on Oahu's North Shore and Maui's Honolua Bay. "[He] is one of the all time greats," said Pai in a press release. Downing spent 30 years working the beaches of Waikiki, and has long been the director of the Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau big wave contest held at Waimea Bay.

The impression Taylor Knox's distinct "rail-to-rail" surfing left on scores of riders during the 1990s was not lost on the HOF. "Knox from the new school has influenced an entire generation of surfers," Pai claimed. A Southern California fixture, Knox's longevity on the ASP World Tour is more notable than his success. Since qualifying in 1993, Knox has remained -- with a career-best fourth place finish -- every year except 1999. "When they called I thought I was just being considered," but the HOF "called again to start getting some photos together and I realized that I was in," Knox told ESPN. "I'm really honored. When you look at the list of guys that are already there it's pretty amazing."

The World Tour elder is competing at the 2011 ASP season-opener at Snapper Rocks (Feb. 26 -- March 9). "I'm looking forward to a new year of improving my surfing on this level; there's a lot of inspiration on this tour!" said Knox.

Chuck Linnen, another Californian, will join the HOF as a decorated surfer who made the finals of his first contest in 1958, four years after he started surfing. Linnen continued to travel and compete before settling down as a high school teacher in Irvine, Calif. But his urge to best others in the water hardly faded. Linnen has since held the titles of National Scholastic Surfing Association Senior Champ and Western Surfing Association Grand Master, according to the HOF.

The Surfers' Hall of Fame made its first induction in 1997 inside Huntington Sport & Surf shop where several markers still reside. In 2001, the city council approved moving the ceremony outside near the Pacific Coast Highway, beneath a bronze statue of Duke Kahanamoku peering across the imprints of fellow inductees.