The sun shone on Redondo Beach as hundreds of people took to the water south of the Redondo Beach Pier on Sunday morning in honor of legendary waterman Bob Meistrell, who died earlier this summer just shy of his 85th birthday.
Meistrell—who co-founded Body Glove International and co-owned Redondo Beach dive shop Dive N Surf with his twin brother, Bill—passed away in mid-June of a heart attack he suffered on his boat, The Disappearance, which was moored at Catalina Island.
Following the paddle-out, even more people gathered at Seaside Lagoon to share memories and eat meals from Bob Meistrell's favorite restaurant, Carls Jr.
"It was a beautiful, beautiful paddle-out this morning," said Walt Puffer, a longtime friend of the Meistrell twins, as he greeted the crowd. "We couldn't ask for a nicer day. It was a beautiful day out there."
Puffer, who was part of the 1947 rookie class of Los Angeles County lifeguards with the Meistrells, told stories about Bob Meistrell, including about how Meistrell would travel from the Hollywood Riviera to Beverly Hills twice weekly for several years to help Puffer—free of charge—teach a dive course.
Not only was the class good for Body Glove's business, but "Bob made a lot of good friends in the movie industry," Puffer said. "(He) taught many of your local heroes on the big screen how to dive—Lloyd Bridges (of) Sea Hunt, Hugh O'Brian."
Above all, Meistrell was a true friend, Puffer said.
"[Bob Meistrell] was probably not the best surfer that I've ever known; nor was he the best diver that I've ever known," Puffer said. "But he was a great waterman, and he was the best friend that anybody could ever ask for."
Redondo Beach Mayor Steve Aspel echoed that remark.
"Bob was friendly to everyone because everyone was his friend, and everyone here will attest to that," Aspel told the crowd. "On behalf of Redondo Beach … godspeed Bob and the entire Meistrell family, and we will miss you."
Other speakers included Body Glove president Russ Lesser, Manhattan Beach Mayor David Lesser, Bob Meistrell's nephew Billy Meistrell, Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi and Jean-Michel Cousteau.
Bob and Bill Meistrell are credited with inventing the first commercially viable neoprene wetsuit, which led to the creation of Body Glove. The twins moved to Manhattan Beach when they were young, and eventually became Los Angeles County lifeguards before purchasing Dive N Surf in South Redondo Beach.
Bill Meistrell passed away in 2006 after battling Parkinson's.
Check back later for more photos and video from the paddle-out and reception.