There is something very special about getting proper, going to a lavish dinner, and then doing good. Thankfully, this is something my friends love doing, or at least for one night a year, when we come together for our annual Ocean Gala; a gala that brings together both MaiTai Global and OceanElders to raise funds for ocean conservation.
I don't usually attend galas, but it's kind of fun to put our boards and kites aside for one night a year and see everyone in black tie, versus bikinis and board shorts; there's a diversity to our community, and when we get to see one another in a totally different environment, we beam with a different kind of smile across our faces. So there we were- a bunch of kiteboarder's and ocean conservationists in black tie attire at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco. It was like summer camp all over again with your closest friends, but in a five-star hotel where everyone gets to drink champagne, run through the hallways of the Palace, and party until dawn with after parties, and after- after parties... I always say the important thing about wearing black tie, is that it is to reflect your own character. Clothes should never disguise the character of the wearer, nor should an interior ever overwhelm the occupant. For me, that's why I opted to wear Emilio Pucci, one of my favorite design houses ever.
Richard was our keynote speaker of the evening and gave a profound speech inspiring all of us to find resolve and purpose and do our part to address global warming. I am honored to have been on the committee this year, as well as being an Entrepreneur in Residence with MaiTai Global, where I can support such a cause that is so near and dear to my heart. I have to say a big thank you to everyone that donated and made my job of running the auction much easier. We are blessed to have such an avid community of supporters that love this organization and feel its their purpose to help save our planet. I couldn't be more proud of my incredible team, Maria, Daniela, & Dill, whose sleepless nights, months of dedication, and love for our community at MaiTai, made this event possible. Susi Mai, Bill Tai, and Gigi Brisson are all inspirations to us and none of this would exist without you. I love you all, so, so, so dearly. See below our press release on the wire from our fantastic PR team, BryteBox.
"Screw it! Lets save the ocean!"
-- SIR RICHARD BRANSON
SAN FRANCISCO, Dec. 7, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- The Second Annual Ocean Gala presented by MaiTai Global and OceanElders raised over $800,000 for ocean conservation efforts with special guests: Sir Richard Branson, Jackson Browne, Dr. Sylvia Earle, Bertrand Piccard, Bob Weir, Sean Stone, Jessica Stam, Rob Stewart, Gerry Lopez, Captain Don Walsh and Wade Davis.
Sir Richard Branson, who served as the keynote speaker, touched on environmental causes and the new President-elect Donald Trump saying, "We have a president in America now who doesn't believe in climate change and it just means that every single business person, entrepreneur, and social worker has to work that much harder to redress the balance." He proclaimed, "Screw it! Let's save the ocean!" and went on to win a bid on a ten-foot 600 pound stunning shark sculpture by artist Clay Simpson for $27,000.
Proceeds from the gala support nonprofits aimed at building awareness around ocean conservation, including OceanElders, MaiTai Global and Mission Blue, the recipient of a $100,000 grant awarded this year by MaiTai Global. Highlights of the auction, organized by Director of Silent and Live Auctions, Colette Young, were a one-on-one with Richard Branson, and a dive with living legend National Geographic's Dr. Sylvia Earle that fetched a whopping $40,000. Dr. Earle, gushed, "What a night -- a veritable tsunami of passion and support for ocean conservation was on display at the Ocean Gala in San Francisco! Along with the entire Mission Blue team, I would like to say thank you again to MaiTai Global for their generous support of the Mission Blue expeditions program. Here's to working more closely together in 2017, to explore the ocean and continue to inspire the world to care for its protection. Onward and downward!"
MaiTai global also featured The Extreme Virtual Reality Challenge, hosted by VR Fest, and showcased a VR Lounge interactive exhibit at this years gala. The first place winner Danny Copeland was awarded $10,000 for his project "The Mini Mantas of Maria". Extreme Tech Challenge, another sub-event of MaiTai Global, announced the top ten semi-finalist in the XTC completion at the end of the night: Audicus, Canaria, Cloudwear, Cresilon, Emerge, Intezer Labs, MobileODT, ReDeTec, SWFL Filament and Vantage Robotics.
Maria Stermer, The Ocean Gala Chair, proudly stated, "This was a phenomenal gala. I'm thrilled that everyone had a fantastic time; it's a rare opportunity to see four world-class speakers for the ocean the same evening – Sir Richard Branson, Dr. Sylvia Earle, Bertrand Piccard and Rob Stewart. Standout items from the auctions included: a Piaget watch, a one-on-one with Oliver Stone, and a week on Sir Richard Branson's private boat Necker Belle - sold to two lucky bidders for $50,000 each, the highest winning bids of the night. The lovely performance by Yuan Yuan Tan and Tiit Helimets of the San Francisco Ballet, was symbolic of the first class setting that crystallized at the Palace Hotel Grand Ballroom. Our community was incredibly generous and showed that we can make a difference when we're brought together for a common cause we're all passionate about. The sold-out event with over four-hundred attendees from over ten countries was hosted by: Susi Mai and Bill Tai, co-founders of MaiTai Global, and Gigi Brisson, founder and CEO of OceanElders, who also drove the message of how important it is to act now to save our oceans."
The Ocean Gala sponsors include: Virgin Unite, Other World Computing, Piaget, Bitfury, Fairwarning, Setili & Associates, Events.com, Nowboat, Breathometer, Ultra Capital and Tutor Group. www.theoceangala.com #TheOceanGala
MaiTai Global, founded by Susi Mai and Bill Tai, is a group of extraordinary entrepreneurs, innovators and athletes whose collective passion of kiteboarding brings them together. www.maitaiglobal.com #MaiTaiGlobal
OceanElders, founded by Gigi Brisson, is an independent group of global leaders who have joined together to serve as a catalyst in the conservation and protection of the ocean. Notable members include Dr. Sylvia Earle, Sir Richard Branson, Captain Don Walsh, Jean-Michel Cousteau, Jim Cameron, Ted Turner, Jackson Browne, Dr. Bertrand Piccard, E.O. Wilson, Wade Davis, and Gerry Lopez. www.oceanelders.org #OceanElders
#MaiTaiGlobal #OceanElders #TheOceanGala
BryteBox, Valentina White (954) 593-4706, firstname.lastname@example.org
SOURCE: The Ocean Gala
Related Links: http://www.theoceangala.com
Photography by: Sarah Son, John Dill, Peter Ruprecht, and Getty Images